By Shadi Khan Saif
The Taliban in Afghanistan continue to press the U.S.-backed government as they overran a key district in Paktia province bordering Pakistan on Saturday, killing 30 members of the security forces.
This comes at a time when the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the U.S. are busy in intense fighting with the Taliban on various fronts.
Hundreds of Taliban militants stormed the district headquarters of Janikhel in Paktia late on Friday. Officials claim local militants were joined by others who crossed over from Pakistan but say the Kabul government failed to send additional troops to resist them.
District Chief Abdul Rahman confirmed the Taliban entered and occupied public offices, leaving 30 ANSF dead in the process. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed in a statement that the district had been completely seized.
However, the provincial government is insisting the ANSF tactically retreated to avoid casualties. Naqibullah Atal, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told Anadolu Agency that five policemen died in the Taliban’s offensive and a number of militants were killed.
Also on Saturday, the Afghan Air Force claimed to have killed 69 militants in the east of the country.
Halfway into their annual offensives, the Taliban in Afghanistan have managed to make inroads in all four corners of the country but their control in overrun districts has been short-lived.
Brigadier General Charles H. Cleveland, deputy chief of staff for communications of the NATO forces in Afghanistan, acknowledged last week that the ANSF was facing leadership issues which have been exploited by the Taliban.
However, he lauded the Afghan forces’ more offensive posture against the Taliban.
Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.