Strategic province in Afghanistan on verge of collapse to Taliban

Strategic province in Afghanistan on verge of collapse to Taliban

KABUL - *As battles raged across the country this week, both the Afghan security forces and the Taliban sustained heavy casualty tolls in three provinces – Farah, Ghazni and Kunduz – on Wednesday evening*, TOLO News has reported.

These battles came just hours before NATO allies extended their funding of the Afghan security forces through to 2024.

In one battle in Kunduz province, in the north of Afghanistan , 15 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed while the Taliban also lost many fighters.

Officials say about 50 Taliban fighters were killed and wounded in the clash.

Meanwhile, sources from Farah said 10 police force members were killed and 10 others were missing after a clash with the Taliban. However, the Ministry of Interior has not commented this report.

“Farah province will soon fall to militants if government does not pay attention to it and does not send reinforcements with air support,” said Esmat Qane, a member of Farah Provincial Council.

Footage of government forces killed in Kunduz has been made public and shows the bodies of 15 soldiers. However, sources from Kunduz said they have seen videos which show the bodies of more than 40 soldiers. They said the bodies had been taken to Takhar provincial hospital.

“More than 30 soldiers have been martyred and 10 others wounded,” said Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, head of the Kunduz Provincial Council.

“Some Army soldiers are also missing. The situation is critical here (in Kunduz),” said Amruddin Sharifi, a member of the Kunduz Provincial Council.

Government forces said three outposts fell to militants in Kunduz on Wednesday night but that they were retaken by army and police personnel.

“Aircrafts arrived with more troops to defend the forces on the ground,” Kunduz governor’s spokesman Nematullah Temori said.

Meanwhile, Ghazni officials said heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban broke out in the province on Wednesday night.

The Defense Ministry meanwhile said 24 Taliban militants were killed and 17 others wounded including Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, a former minister of

Taliban and incumbent member of the Quetta Shura.

The Ministry of Defense says Muttaqi, a former Taliban minister, was wounded in an airstrike that targeted a gathering of Taliban leaders in Ghazni province.

The ministry said in a statement that the Afghan Army’s Air Force targeted the gathering in Langai village in Nawa district in Ghazni.

The airstrike was carried out based on intelligence that had been gathered, the statement added.

The MoD said Muttaqi, Mullah Khalifa and Mullah Shah Mohammad, both members of the Quetta Shura; Mullah Yusuf, Taliban’s designated shadow governor for Ghazni; and Mullah Sayed Almas, Taliban’s designated shadow governor for Paktia, were present at the gathering.

Muttaqi was born in Shin Kalai village, in Zurmat district, in Paktia province and is thought to be currently living in Pakistan. He was the Taliban representative in UN-led talks under the Taliban regime.

Taliban has rejected the claim of him having been wounded.

These clashes come as Afghan government ramps up efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict.

On Wednesday, an international summit of religious scholars wrapped up in Saudi Arabia. The summit focused on the Afghanistan situation and in a declaration, issued after the summit, delegates declared the war as forbidden in Islam and in turn called on the Taliban to renounce violence and join the peace process.

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