Taliban hold onto seventh Afghan provincial capital


KABUL: The Taliban seized another Afghan capital on Tuesday — the seventh in but every week — as tens of thousands of individuals fled their homes within the north for the relative safety of Kabul and other centers.

A provincial lawmaker said the insurgents had taken Farah city, capital of the same-named province in western Afghanistan, while a Taliban spokesman posted pictures of fighters walking casually past the gates of the police station and governor’s office.

Shahla Abubar, a member of Farah’s provincial council, said local security forces retreated towards a military base outside the town.

Five of the opposite provincial capitals to possess fallen since Friday are within the country’s north with the insurgents setting their sights on Mazar-i-Sharif, the region’s biggest city.

Its fall would signal the entire collapse of state control within the traditionally anti-Taliban north.

Government forces also are battling the hardline militants in Kandahar and Helmand, the southern Pashto-speaking provinces from where the Taliban draw their strength.

The US — thanks to complete a troop withdrawal at the top of the month and end its longest war — has about left the battlefield.

The Taliban have appeared largely indifferent to peace overtures, and appear bent on a military victory to crown a return to power after their ouster 20 years ago within the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

As fighting raged, thousands of individuals were on the move inside the country, with families fleeing newly captured Taliban cities with tales of brutal treatment at the hands of the militants.

“The Taliban are beating and looting,” said Rahima, now camped out with many families at a park within the capital, Kabul, after fleeing Sheberghan province.

“If there’s lass or a widow during a family, they forcibly take them.

“We fled to guard our honor. We are so exhausted,” added Farid, an evacuee from Kunduz who didn’t want to be further identified.

The UN’s world organization for Migration said on Tuesday that quite 359,000 people are displaced by fighting this year alone.

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