Ghani in Mazar-e-Sharif as Taliban capture more territory

Insight Online News

Kabul, Aug 11 : President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif city, in Balkh province, on Wednesday morning to assess the security situation, even as the Taliban have taken over two more cities, taking the number of provincial capitals the Islamist militia have seized to eight since Friday.

Ghani’s adviser on security and political affairs Mohammad Mohaqiq and former mujahideen commander Juma Khan Hamdard are accompanying the President on the trip, Tolo News reported.

Ghani’s visit to Balkh province comes hours after former Vice President Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum along with his commandos arrived at Balkh province on Tuesday night. Dostum is said to be leading operations against the Taliban in the northern provinces.

The Taliban have toppled Dostum’s birthplace, Jawzjan province, and have also occupied his palace in the provincial city of Sheberghan.

Balkh province which borders Tajikistan is facing a four-pronged attack by the Taliban who have captured all the surrounding provinces.

A security meeting will be held in Mazar-e-Sharif with Marshal Dostum, former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor and security officials in the province, an official said.

The meeting will focus on coordination between the defence and security forces and clearing the Taliban from the cities that have been captured by the militia, a source said.

Meanwhile, making swift territorial gains, the Taliban have now overrun northeastern Badakhshan province.

With the fall of Faizabad as a result of fighting on Tuesday, seven of the nine northern provincial capitals are now under Taliban control.

The government remains in control of only Mazar-e-Sharif and Maimana, the capitals of Balkh and Faryab provinces respectively.

On Tuesday, India evacuated its personnel from the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif and urged all Indian nationals to leave amid the volatile situation.

On Tuesday, the militants gained control of Farah City and Pul-i-Khumri, the capitals of Farah and Baghlan provinces.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid posted photos of militants walking casually past the gates of the Farah police headquarters and the governor´s office, Pajhwok news agency reported.

Meanwhile, fierce fighting is ongoing in southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

The Taliban are reported to be in control of 65 per cent of the country.

Zaranj, capital of western Nimroz, Aybak, capital of northern Samangan, Taloqan, capital of northern Takhar, Sheberghan, capital of Jawzjan, and Sar-e-Pul, capital of northern Sar-e-Pul province, have fallen to the Taliban.


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