Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Local officials in Badghis province reported that Taliban attack on the outskirts of Qala-e Naw district, the provincial capital, was repulsed. Provincial Governor Hesamuddin Shams told Radio Azadi that 11 Taliban insurgents were killed and nine others were wounded, during the clashes, whilst two civilians were also killed as a result of Taliban’s mortar attack.
A local source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that three ANDSF outposts fell to the Taliban, during the attack, where five ANDSF members were killed and three others were wounded.
However, Taliban have captured a key district in their former bastion of Kandahar after fierce night-time fighting with Afghan government forces, officials said on Sunday, the latest area to be seized since US troops began their final withdrawal. The fall of Panjwai district in the southern province of Kandahar comes just two days after US and NATO forces vacated their main Bagram Air Base near Kabul, from where they led operations for two decades against the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies, as per a AFP report.
Over the years, the Taliban and Afghan forces have regularly clashed in and around Panjwai, with the insurgents aiming to seize it given its proximity to Kandahar city, the provincial capital. The province of Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, who went on to rule Afghanistan with a harsh version of Islamic sharia law until being overthrown by a US-led invasion in 2001. Panjwai district governor Hasti Mohammad said Afghan forces and the Taliban clashed during the night, resulting in government forces retreating from the area. “The Taliban have captured the district police headquarters and governor’s office building,” he told AFP. Kandahar provincial council head Sayed Jan Khakriwal confirmed the fall of Panjwai, but accused government forces of “intentionally withdrawing”.
Meanwhile, the Aqina dry port has remained inactive over the past week, as fighting has reached within 10km of the border crossing. Local residents expressed concern about the port’s closure and warned that residents of Andkhoy, Khani Char Bagh, Qaramqol, and Qurghan districts are facing with difficult conditions, due to food shortages.
Secretary of the provincial council, Mohammad Rozi, told Radio Azadi that the ANDSF have erected defense lines 10km from the port, as the Taliban have closed the roads to cargo trucks towards Jowzjan province and Aqina port. Rozi added that the price of food and fuel has increased, which will have dire consequences for local residents. Provincial Governor Enayatullah Kamal told Azadi Radio that the Taliban are intent on capturing Aqina port, but it will fail to achieve that objective. Kamal assured that the ANDSF will recapture the lost areas, before a tragedy occurs.
Meanwhile, President Ghani met with prominent jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf at the Presidential Palace, before noon on Sunday, as part of President’s series of consultation meetings with political and prominent figures. Both sides discussed the need for strengthening national consensus, unified position against the enemy, clear support for the ANDSF, and continued efforts for peace.
In other news, Kabul’s provincial police reported that a man shot at his young son in PD16. Provincial Police Spokesman Firdaws Faramarz stated that the incident happened before noon on Sunday, the police are chasing the perpetrator, and the reason behind the incident is unclear.
Meanwhile, Head of Radio Kishm in Badakhshan province, Noor Agha Noori, told Radio Azadi that the station had to close due to security problems. Noori said that the Taliban attacked and captured the area, and he had to close the station three days ago, to avoid any damages. Noori added that the Taliban told him to stop radio operations until further notice, to allow the group to make decision about media activities in the area. Currently, all Radio Kishm employees are off, due to security concerns.
Head of Radio Baharistan in Baharak district also reported that the station had to stop its activities, due to insecurity. Radio Darman in Aqcha district of Jowzjan province has also stopped its operation, as the Taliban have captured the district. Head of Nai-Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, Abdul Mujib Khelwatgar, reported that about 20 local radio stations have so far stopped their operations in northern districts, which experience heavy fighting. Khelwatgar expressed concern that the continuation of the situation will forces additional media outlets to stop their operations.
Head of journalists’ safety committee in Jowzjan province, Farida Amini, stated that broadcasts are occurring in favor of the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated that the group has placed no restrictions on radio operations and has only urged them to remain neutral.
Meanwhile, local officials in Paktia province reported that a civilian vehicle hit a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) in Robat area of PD4 in Gardez city on Sunday, which killed four civilians, including two women and a child. Provincial governor’s office stated that the Taliban had planted the IED on a secondary road. The office added that the ANDSF also detected and disarmed four IEDs, which the Taliban had planted in Robat area.
Also, Herat’s provincial telecommunications officials stated that an explosion at telecommunications facilities in Islam Qala Township has caused about $1 million USD in financial losses. Provincial Telecommunications Director Ashiqullah Alizai told Etilat roz that the Taliban attacked and detonated Islam Qala telecommunications department. Alizai added that the repair work will take time and the province will face problems in its internet speed for a period of time, as the required equipment should be transported from Kabul. Alizai highlighted that the threats were repeatedly shared with the ANDSF; however, no action has been taken to thwart such threats, and the sole security outpost near the facilities was removed. The Taliban have yet to comment on the report.
Keeping all this in mind, the Senate called on the government to provide clarification over reasons behind the evacuation of districts. First Deputy Senate Speaker Mohammad Alam Ezadyar told the Senate that the fall and evacuation of districts are questionable and ambiguous, as the issue without any clashes has concerned the public. Ezadyar added that perpetrators behind the collapse of districts should be identified and investigated, whilst those ANDSF who fight the enemy must be rewarded, and that the government must try to appoint experienced and competent individuals in security positions.
Ezadyar also called on the human rights organizations not to remain indifferent towards Taliban’s violations of human rights, and investigate these cases, as the Taliban have killed and forcefully displaced the people, and destroyed public facilities. Other senators also said that those who have evacuated military bases and districts or handed over their weapons and ammunition to the enemy should be investigated, and called on the government to remain accountable.
Kabul: The Afghanistan Meteorological Department (AMD) warned of the possibility of heavy rainfall and floods, thunder, and storm across Kunar, Nuristan, Panjshir, Parwan, Kapisa, Baghlan, Samangan, Bamyan, Kabul, Laghman, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, and Logar provinces, on Sunday and Monday.
The AMD has forecast rainfall of 10-20 millimeters in various parts of the aforementioned provinces.
In other news, the 6th exhibition of domestic products under the banner “Peace and Self-Sufficiency” was launched in Herat city on Sunday. The exhibition includes 220 stands and will be open to visitors for five days.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nisar Ahmad Faizi Ghoryani inaugurated the exhibition and called on the Taliban to stop fighting and violence, and work at industrial factories, instead of making an earning through fighting. Ghoryani said that industrial parks, particularly in Herat province, are able to employ most of Taliban fighters and the group must seize this opportunity.
Ghoryani added that exhibition of domestic products is a proper opportunity to raise public morale and increase willingness in investment, gave assurances that the government is supporting all economic activities to help increase active manufacturing firms. Industrialists and businessmen expressed concern about an increase in violence, called on the government to curb insecurity, and warned that the continuation and further increase in insecurity will affect investment.
Provincial Governor Abdul Saboor Qane assured that the ANDSF are able to curb security threats and will not allow the Taliban to disrupt economic activities. Reportedly, over 150 manufacturing firms are currently active at the provincial industrial park.
Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday reported 1,243 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 84 deaths and 806 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The total number of cases now stand at 125,937, while the number of reported deaths is 5,283.
The Ministry of Health has called on Afghan citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Kabul: The Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Sunday rejected Taliban’s claims of having captured districts.
MoI Spokesman Tariq Arian stated that the ANDSF have temporarily shifted from one area within some district centers to another area, which is not meant collapse of these districts. Arian said that the Taliban are unable to keep a district or use any vehicles they claim to have captured, the group lacks logistical capacity and its members are scattered in remote areas.
Arian claimed that the Taliban has no plan for the people in the areas, which the group claims to be present, whilst the people have been displaced from the areas, where the Taliban are present, indicating that the group has no place among the people. Arian reiterated that Taliban advances are temporary, not permanent, as the group follows destructive approach and at the same time, major public mobilization has been formed in support of the ANDSF, several districts have been freed from the Taliban, people have taken part in national defense process, and the ANDSF are bravely defending their country and people.
In fact, the Ministry of National Defense announced on Sunday that Baharak district of Badakhshan province was recaptured by government forces. Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties in security operations.
Also, local officials in eastern zone stated that 101 Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded during ANDSF operation in Laghman and Nangarhar provinces. Deputy Spokesman for the 201st Selab Army Corps, Sayed Maqsood Sahibzada, told Etilatroz that the ANDSF conducted air and artillery strikes in Alishing district of Laghman province today morning, killing 41 Taliban insurgents including three commanders, and wounding 37 others. Sahibzada added that 15 Taliban insurgents were killed and eight others were wounded during a special operation in Hisarak district of Nangarhar province, where the ANDSF also captured weapons and ammunition. Officials said that the operations were successfully ongoing. The Taliban have yet to comment on the report.
Meanwhile, security sources in Ghazni province confirmed that four civilians, including a woman, were killed during clashes between government forces and Taliban fighters in Ghazni city. Safi Hazara, the head of Ghazni’s PD6, said that the incident took place on Saturday in the Qala-e-Klokhak area in the city. Hazara added that Commando forces also killed 14 Taliban insurgents and wounded two others, who had hidden inside a mosque in the area, to attack the ANDSF. The Taliban are yet to comment on the matter.
Also, security sources in Herat province said that Najibullah, the head of criminal department of Herat’s PD5, was killed in a clash with armed robbers. Abdul Ahad Walizada, a spokesman for the Herat Police said that the incident took place on Saturday night. Walizada explained that the clash between the police forces and the thieves took place when the thieves fled after stealing and were pursued by the police. Walizada added that two armed robbers were also killed during the firefight and another was wounded, whilst the police also confiscated weapons from the robbers.
In other news, local sources report that the Taliban group also carried out an attack on a popular uprising checkpoint at Bagram Airport. According to sources, the checkpoint is located on the border between Bagram and Kuh-e-Safi districts in Parwan province. Lala Shirin Rufi, Bagram district governor of Parwan province, told Hashte Subh daily that a group of 20 Taliban had attacked a local army checkpoint in Kuh-e-Safi district in Qala-e-Jala village, on the border between Bagram and Kuh-e-Safi districts. One local army member and a Taliban insurgent were killed and another was wounded in the attack. Local sources said that the Taliban intended to attack the Bagram Air Base, however, Raufi said that the Taliban lack the capacity.
At the height of insecurity and the fall of a number of district centers to the Taliban, the consulates of eight countries in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, have limited their activities. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and India have consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) welcomed the removal of the Afghan National Police (ANP) from the UN Secretary General’s “List of Shame,” which was due to the presence of children under 18 within the ANP. The MoFA stated that UN Secretary General’s 2020 Report on Children and Military Conflict describes the implementation of the ANP Action Plan to prevent recruitment and reduce violence against children as a success.
The MoFA added that the removal of ANP from the list is the result of ongoing progress in implementing the National Action Plan and preventing recruitment of children into the ANDSF ranks, and this development demonstrates the Afghan government’s commitment to international values of human rights and good governance. The MoFA hoped that countries and international organizations will prevent the recruitment of and violence on children by exerting political pressure and imposing sanctions on the Taliban and other armed opposition groups.
Meanwhile, Nangarhar’s provincial repatriation and refugee directorate stated that violence has displaced 6,000 families across the province, over the past three months. Deputy Provincial Repatriation and Refugee Director Wali Mohammad Allahyar told Etilatroz that these families have been forced to flee their homes in Haska Mina, Achin, Hisarak, Pachir aw Gam, and Sherzad districts, and food and other basic needs have been provided to 1,200 out of 3,000 families, who have been surveyed in cooperation with various non-governmental organizations. Allahyar gave assurances that the survey is underway to provide basic needs to all the deserving families.
Those displaced called on the government to provide assistance, increase ANDSF outposts in the recaptured areas, and equip the people’s uprising forces. Meanwhile, Provincial Police Chief Sultan Daud Sultan said that clearance operation has been launched to recapture the lost areas. Sultan added that the ANDSF have cleared Bagh Dara area of Achin district, killed and wounded dozens of Taliban insurgents, including 16 Pakistani nationals, and that those displaced from the area can return to their homes.
Also, former Vice-President and Deputy Jamiat-e Islami Party Leader Ahmad Zia Massoud stated that the current government seems unable to contain the major challenge, as the country is facing rapid military developments. Massoud added that it’s important for the government to take an immediate action and establish an Emergency Council, consisting of prominent military figures and political leaders, which should have the necessary executive authority to help the government control the situation. Massoud warned that otherwise, the country will witness the collapse of districts to the Taliban, on a daily basis.
However, First Vice-President Amrullah Saleh on Twitter said, “I see a great and historic opportunity for unity. Every single community from all corners of the country asks Kabul for deployment of the army and commandos. This shows thirst for institutions and rule of law as people reject factionalism. Talibs won’t be able to take Afghanistan or rule. Never.”
Kabul: Afghanistan has unveiled a new visa policy months after Pakistan had announced a new liberal visa policy for Afghan nationals that include long-term visas with multiple entries for businessmen, students, families, tourism and medical visas.
“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has introduced a relaxed visa regime for Pakistani citizens as a goodwill gesture and economic, social, cultural and expansion of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and to increase the people-to-people contacts,” Afghan ambassador Najibullah Alikhil told Daily Times on Friday. The Afghan embassy in Islamabad has issued details of the new policy.
Afghan Mission in Pakistan may allow multiple entry visas valid upto one year with duration of 60 days in each stay to ordinary Afghan nationals for visit/tourism. Free three-month medical visa will be issued at Torkham crossing. Afghan embassy in Islamabad may grant upto five years family visit visa with multiple entries with each stay of not more than one year to Pakistani nationals who have spouse of Afghan origin on provision of legal documents that prove their marriages. Afghan embassy in Islamabad may grant a five years business visa with multiple entries to genuine Pakistani businessmen whose investment is not less than less than 20 afghanis. A three-year business visa with multiple entries to genuine Afghan businessmen whose investment is not less than 20 million afghanis. Afghan missions in Pakistan may grant one-year multiple visas to Pakistani nationals on the recommendation letter by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and trade counselors at the Afghan embassy and consulates. Businessmen will pay 150 dollars for a one-year visa, 200 dollars for two-year visa and 300 dollars for three-year visa.
Afghan mission may grant entry study visas to Pakistanis for the duration of the study program with multiple entries at university level following documents on issuance of authorization. The Afghan ambassador said the country’s embassy and consulates are dealing with the growing number of Pakistani nationals who seek visa to go abroad visa Afghanistan in the wake of flight ban from Pakistan. “In the past the embassy would issue nearly 50 visas to Pakistanis daily but now the embassy sometimes issues over 1000 visas.
In other news, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have agreed to determinedly continue high-level exchanges and enhance mutual cooperation and understanding in diverse fields. The two countries reached an understanding during the inaugural round of Pakistan-Uzbekistan Bilateral Political Consultations held between the two sides. They expressed satisfaction on the positive momentum in high-level visits and interactions including the visit of the Uzbek foreign minister to Pakistan and virtual summit between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The two sides discussed progress on Trans-Afghan railway project between Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Body sides underlined the convergence of views in ensuring security, stability and lasting peace in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Afghanistan (CBA) has fired a number of its employees, for failing to include Pashto language in the Geneva Conference Commitments, but it did not disclose the number of dismissed employees. The CBA added that the dismissal was as lesson to other employees to avoid making such a mistake.
Kabul: In an interview with an Indian newspaper, The Hindu, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said that the US has failed in its mission in Afghanistan, and said hopes for regional security solutions depend on Russia, China, Iran and India, and an end to extremism by Pakistan.
Karzai stated that he believed there was no terrorism in Afghanistan, and no extremism in Afghanistan. “The part which we suffer now, and has not been fulfilled, was the mission, as was stated by the United States repeatedly, that their presence in Afghanistan is to fight extremism and terrorism and bring stability. That has obviously failed. Look at our condition. Look at where we are, just a month and a half ago, more than 85 Afghan schools, girls, young girls and teenagers were killed,” he said.
Karzai added that the Taliban are from the same country and that the government must sit together and not be victims of a foreign plot in which we Afghans die, and others reap the profits. “Therefore, the solution to whatever mechanism that brings peace to Afghanistan and stability to our nation, is something that Afghan people will wholeheartedly work for,” he said.
However, he condemned the ongoing violence by Taliban and added that their support came from the neighborhood of Afghanistan. “There are two sides to this failing situation in Afghanistan, one is the misconduct of the United States policy, visibly in Afghanistan itself, and the way they dealt with our neighbors, Pakistan. They complained against Pakistan. And yet they provided them support. So, we suffer from these two contradictions,” he said.
On tolerating red lines from Taliban, Karzai said that Afghanistan has drawn red lines. “An Afghanistan where the will of the Afghan people determines the future, chooses its government and an Afghanistan where the people enjoy the rights that God has given to them, and where the Afghan women have the right place in the society, that we live happily together in unity and peace and towards prosperity. Those are red lines that cannot be compromised,” he said.
He added, “I have my own daughters growing up in Afghanistan. They are little girls now that are growing up, and I want them to have an excellent future in their own country, to be educated to be what they want to be, to serve the country. And there is no compromise on that.”
On the Doha peace talks, he said that it has not been productive so far and it has not given the results that Afghanistan wanted. “We want it to succeed. We’re looking forward to meeting with the leaders of the Taliban movement. We also hope that our engagement with Pakistan, if it happens, will be one that will lead both nations to a better relationship. That is a desired outcome people and we’re looking forward to substantive real engagement on this,” he said.
On India talking to Taliban, Karzai said, “India has been a tremendous ally, there are various reconstruction and development projects that India implemented in Afghanistan. I have been for a long, long time of the view that South Asia must be peaceful, and that we must all live together, exactly the way the European Union is now having a very profitable and free interaction among the states there. And for that to happen, how can we not recognize that India must be part of the processes in this region, not only the peace process, but everything else? Therefore, I welcome India’s talks to the Taliban. I think it was long overdue. I hope it has occurred. I don’t have first-hand information from either the Government of India nor the Taliban. But I wish it is true.”
He added, “The growth and mushrooming of extremism in Afghanistan will first affect Pakistan deeply as it has already, then definitely, it will cross over to India. So, extremism in Afghanistan, in any form is going to affect the neighborhood of Afghanistan. Therefore, any engagement by India and Afghanistan, or with Pakistan, that brings about the reduction and the eradication of extremism and terrorism is good for all of us.”
On Pakistan, he said, “Our expectation, and our hope is that change has occurred in Pakistan. Afghan people will engage with Pakistan in all sincerity in making sure that Afghanistan and Pakistan have good positive, good neighborly friendly, civilized relations,” he said.
On Russia and China, Karzai said, “Russia has conducted several very productive rounds of intra Afghan dialogue in Moscow from November 2018, to last March 2021. And the last Troika plus meeting ended with a very good declaration statement on Afghanistan. Russia has done all it could, and I very much want Russia to do a lot more. China is a good friend of Afghanistan, a neighbor of Afghanistan, it means well for the Afghan people, we also hope very much they would step up their profile and activity in Afghanistan. We hope that the Troika plus would include Iran and India as well. Peace in this region can only come when we join hands, all of us, and remove the competition, or the negativity surrounding this exercise.”
On the future of Afghanistan, Karzai said, “Afghanistan faced extremely difficult circumstances in the past 40 years. We are resilient people. There is an immense vision amongst the Afghan youth to grow their own country, and we must provide for our own security. We cannot depend on any outside source for our security. And we hope that our neighbors will understand that Afghanistan wishes good relations, especially with Pakistan.”
Karzai also denied trying to get in a position in the new government. “Leading any such arrangement would hurt my efforts for peace, and I don’t want my efforts to be tainted that way. As a citizen of Afghanistan, I’m working for a peaceful life, for the Afghan people, for myself, for my children, for my friends for the country. But in no way would I be part of any mechanism that becomes a government,” he clarified.
Kabul: The civil aviation authority of Afghanistan said in a statement that the radar and VSAT systems guiding flights from Bagram airfield and Hamid Karzai International airport reactivated. Both the systems were deactivated before Resolute Support vacate the Bagram airbase in the north of Kabul.
It comes after local residents of the Bagram district of Parwan province started plundering the military base soon after the last plane carrying US troops flew from the airbase. Local people purportedly stormed the base and took away a great deal of equipment late on Friday night. Afghan National Army and Police now manning security of Bagram airbase, arrested some culprits and shot wounded others. The Afghan security personnel said that US troops flew and left the airbase without coordination or informing them which caused the plunder.
Bagram airbase, the biggest and most paramount military base for the US and coalition forces in combat with Taliban and hunting down Al-Qaeda perpetrators, evacuated two days back bringing the total number of US troops based in Afghanistan to around one thousand. Although Pentagon has not clarified the exact date of its last soldier leaving Afghanistan it says that around one thousand US troops will remain in Kabul until handing over security of Kabul airport to Turkish troops. Bagram airbase is now sixth in Afghanistan being handed over to ANDSF by US troops. Afghanistan Ministry of defense says that they will soon start using the airfield in suppressing the Taliban.
Meanwhile, The US Embassy in Kabul tweeted on Sunday evening that it is open and have no plans to close down. “As directed by President Biden, we will continue to have a robust diplomatic presence in Kabul to carry out the range of work we do with the government and people of Afghanistan. We have no plans to close the Embassy. The US Embassy is constantly planning for contingencies and how to mitigate risks to our people and programs. We are aware of security challenges to operating in Afghanistan, and we will adjust our presence as necessary to address these challenges. We are confident that we can conduct our work in a safe manner to the benefit of Afghanistan and the bilateral relationship. Similar to all of our missions overseas, the Embassy has well-developed security plans to safely protect our personnel & facilities. As President Biden and Secretary Blinken have said, while the US military presence in Afghanistan is ending, the US Embassy will continue our diplomatic, humanitarian, and security assistance programs in Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, expecting large refugees due to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan, a tent city has been erected outside the southern Uzbekistan city of Termez, apparently in advance of an anticipated flow of refugees from bordering Afghanistan, local residents told Eurasianet.
Termez-based journalist Abror Kurbanmuradov, who on July 3 visited an area near the Hairaton border outpost, the only official crossing from Afghanistan, told Eurasianet that he was not permitted to view the tents, but that officials with the security services confirmed the presence of the camp. “The [State Security Services] officer said the tents had been put up in case of emergency or unexpected developments,” Kurbanmuradov said. “There is no one in the tents yet.”
Another journalist with knowledge of the layout of the camp told Eurasianet that at least 80 large tents equipped with beds and some communication and field equipment have been put in place at the site. The appearance of the camp comes while Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov is on a weeklong working visit to the United States, where he is understood to have been engaged in talks with officials in Washington on how Tashkent might assist in coping with a fast-evolving security situation in Afghanistan. The visit is scheduled to wrap up on July 4.
According to a Bloomberg report on July 2, the Biden administration has reached out to Uzbekistan, as well as Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, to ask if they might temporarily accommodate up to 9,000 Afghans who might face reprisals for working with US military forces. Around 18,000 such Afghans are reportedly going through the motions of applying for special immigrant visas, which would entitle them to later claim refugee status. A portion only now initiating the process need to be accommodated in a third country pending approval, however, according to Bloomberg’s reporting.
It is unclear whether the Termez tent facility is intended for those visa applicants or for people fleeing the unrest affecting districts just across the river. The proximity of the fighting in Afghanistan is now starting to seed fears inside Uzbekistan, not least among the Afghan community in Termez.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan too has taken a firmer line against escaping Afghan troops, warning them that they are violating international law by crossing the border without approval. A spokesman for the presidential administration in Tashkent had said on June 28 that there had been several such attempts in the preceding few days. Several hundred Afghan border troops were forced to seek shelter in Tajikistan on Saturday, fleeing a major offensive by the Taliban, which has intensified its attacks amid the withdrawal of US troops from the country. More than a dozen districts, mostly in Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan Province, have fallen into the hands of the Taliban over the past 24 hours, security sources told TOLOnews.
The heavy fighting on the other side of the border was also confirmed by the military of neighboring Tajikistan. More than 300 Afghan frontier troops had to cross into Tajik territory to avoid heavy losses amid clashes with the advancing militants, the press service of Tajikistan’s border forces told news agency RIA Novosti. The foreign servicemen were allowed to enter “in line with the principles of humanity and good neighborliness,” it added. The press service confirmed that the border with Afghanistan remained under the full control of Tajik forces.
The Afghan defense ministry said that, despite retreating, the government troops managed to kill at least 224 Taliban insurgents on Saturday. “The security and defense forces of Afghanistan will not spare any efforts” to retake the areas that have been recently seized by the Taliban, Ministry Spokesman Fawad Aman promised.