3 people killed in Afghanistan landmine blast
Taliban claim control of 5 districts, government calls it 'strategic retreat,' claiming troops killed 86 insurgents
Three civilians were killed in a landmine blast in Afghanistan's eastern Paktia province where surging violence has recently displaced hundreds of families.
The provincial governor's spokesman, Abdul Rahman Mangal, told Anadolu Agency that a passenger car hit a roadside landmine in the Ibrahim Khel area of the provincial capital Gardez, killing three civilians.
Blaming the Taliban for planting roadside landmines, he said the victims of the incident were local carpet sellers.
A week ago, four members of two families, two of them women, were killed in a similar blast in the same area.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly explosion.
UN estimates indicate that there are at least 120 landmine-related civilian casualties in Afghanistan every month.
Thousands of families have been displaced by the raging violence in Zurmat district, according to reporting coming from Paktia.
A number of Zurmat residents took to the streets on Monday to express their concern on the landmine blasts and clashes. They said the Taliban warned locals to leave the area as they planted landmines along the main and secondary roads in the district.
Taliban capture more areas
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed on Monday claimed to have captured the districts of Soozma Qala in Sar-e Pul province, Ashk Amish, and Chah-e-Aab in Takhar province, Arghanj Khwah in Badakhshan, Tulaak in Ghor province, and Khan Abad in Kunduz province.
According to the local Tolo News, out of 387 districts and 34 provincial capitals, the centers of at least 17 districts were captured by the Taliban in their bid for total control.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry has termed it a "strategic retreat" in a bid to prevent civilian casualties and has vowed to retake the areas with full force.
It said on Twitter: "86 #Taliban terrorists were killed and 31 others were wounded as a result of #ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) operations in Nangarhar, Kandahar, Faryab, Nimruz, Badakhshan and Takhar provinces during the last 24 hours. Also, 19 IEDs were discovered & defused by #ANA (Afghan National Army)."
A deadly spiral of violence has gripped Afghanistan since the announcement of an exit date of September 2021 for American troops by the US President Joe Biden, which has led to mounting casualties on all sides.