Making rapid gains over the past few days, the Taliban have now taken control of 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, sources confirmed on Friday.
Following days of heavy clashes, the insurgents captured Afghanistan’s second- and third-largest cities of Kandahar and Herat on Thursday, and advanced on five more provincial capitals.
The Taliban have overrun Pul-e-Alam, the capital of the eastern Logar province, which lies less than 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Kabul, the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a series of tweets on Friday.
He said the police headquarters and the general prison in the center of Logar were “conquered,” adding that several soldiers surrendered and many weapons, including two tanks, were seized.
Clashes were ongoing in the southern part of Pul-e-Alam, he said in Twitter posts that also had video clips of the insurgents’ advances in Logar, which is the home province of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
The Taliban also claimed capturing Qalat, the capital of Zabul province as well as Tarinkot, the center of the Uruzgan province in the south of the country.
Meanwhile, Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh has reinterred the government forces would stand firm against the Taliban. “In today's meeting on national security chaired by (President) Prz @ashrafghani (Mohammad Ashraf Ghani) it was decided with conviction & resolve that WE STAND FIRM AGAINST TALIBAN TERRORISTS & DO EVERTYHING TO STREGNTHEN THE NATIONAL RESISTANCE BY ALL MEANS AND WAYS. PERIOD. We are proud of our ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces),” tweeted Saleh.
The country’s Defense Ministry vowed to have killed 378 Taliban in air and ground offensives against the insurgents in the past 24 hours.
Earlier, in another major development on Friday, the insurgents said they captured the Afghan National Army’s 207th Zafar Corps and an airport in Herat, and detained veteran Afghan politician Ismail Khan, Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Rehman, and other key provincial officials.
A member of the Herat provincial council, Ghulam Habib, told Anadolu Agency that after the fall of the city following days of Taliban attacks, the core Herat leadership took refuge in the army corps, and eventually surrendered to the Taliban on Friday after mediation between the two sides.
The Taliban fighters posed for pictures with defeated Ismail Khan, who had fought with his gunmen for days to resist the insurgents’ march on the third-largest city of Afghanistan.
Earlier, the Taliban took control of Feroz Koh, the capital of the central Ghor province, as well as Qala-e-Nau, the capital of the western Badghis province.
Prior to Qalat and Tarinkot, Pul-e-Alam was the 15th provincial capital to be fully or partially overrun by the Taliban, after Kandahar, Lashkargah, Herat, Feroz Koh, Qala-e-Nau, Ghazni, Fayzabad, Aybak, Zaranj, Sheberghan, Kunduz, Pul-e-Khumri, Taluqan, and Sar-e-Pul.
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