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Taliban Attack Tests Afghan Forces Near Iran Border

16 May, 2018, 15:10 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • Afghan capital Kabul hit by explosion

USA and Afghan aircraft Tuesday bombed Taliban positions in the western city of Farah after the insurgents launched a major attempt to capture the provincial capital, with fearful residents seeking shelter from explosions and gunfire.

Since the launch of the Taliban's spring offensive last month, the group has carried out several attacks in the capital, Kabul, and battled security forces in several provinces, taking additional districts in recent weeks.

"The Taliban are moving very fast, if the government does not take serious and speedy action, the province is going to collapse to Taliban", said Hamidullah, a resident of the city reached by telephone in the morning. Taliban fighters have also attacked the city's hospital, where they killed two wounded Afghan police officers.

Noorulhaq Khaliqi, a military spokesman in Farah, said Afghan security forces had repelled the attack but some residents said the Taliban had already set up checkpoints around the city and were checking identity cards and preventing people from fleeing.

In the last week, clashes between security forces and militants in Farah, Baghlan, Faryab, Ghor and Badakhshan province ended in high casualty rates.

Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban in recent years, as the insurgents have seized several districts across the country.

A Taleban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi issued a statement late on Tuesday afternoon on WhatsApp messaging groups claiming that the insurgents had taken "most parts of Farah city".

The province, which also borders the opium-rich Taliban heartland of Helmand province, has key smuggling routes into Iran.

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The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year.

On Tuesday, Samihullah Samim, a lawmaker from Farah, said parts of the city were under Taliban control, and the fighting had moved within 300 yards of the governor's residence.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said in a statement on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that A-10 close support fighter jets were circling Farah, which it said remains under government control.

"They kill one, and they claim three", Radmanish said.

There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it, a project with which the Taliban have pledged to cooperate. In 2017, insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

Farah is home to about 50,000 people and would be the second city to fall to the Taliban since the city of Kunduz fell twice in 2015 and 2016.

They along with the Islamic State group have also stepped up their attacks in the capital Kabul, which the United Nations says has in recent years become one of the country's deadliest places for civilians.

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