Thursday, April 18, 2024

Taliban continues march to take Kabul

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The Taliban moved closer to retaking full control of Afghanistan on Sunday, as the capital Kabul became the only major city left in government hands.

On Sunday the militants took control of Jalalabad, a key eastern city, without a fight.

It followed the seizure of the government’s northern bastion of Mazar-i-Sharif just a day earlier.

The rapid collapse of government forces has left President Ashraf Ghani under growing pressure to resign.

He appears to face a stark choice between surrender or a fight to hold the capital.

The US is deploying 5 000 troops to help evacuate its nationals from the beleaguered country.

President Joe Biden has defended his decision to escalate the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying he could not justify an “endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict”.

Reports on Sunday morning said the Taliban overran Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, without a shot being fired.

“There are no clashes taking place right now in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban,” a local Afghan official told Reuters news agency.

“Allowing passage to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives.”

Journalist Tariq Ghazniwal tweeted images purportedly showing the provincial governor handing over control to the Taliban.

The capture of Jalalabad means the Taliban have secured the roads connecting the country with Pakistan.

It came hours after Mazar-i-Sharif – the capital of Balkh province and fourth-largest city in Afghanistan – also fell largely without a fight.

Abas Ebrahimzada, a lawmaker from Balkh, told the Associated Press news agency that the national army were the first to surrender, which then prompted pro-government forces and other militia to give up.

The insurgents now control 23 of 34 provincial capitals.

More than a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the fighting and many have sought refuge in Kabul.

Some who had fled areas controlled by the Taliban said militants there were demanding families hand over unmarried girls and women to become wives for their fighters. (BBC)

 

 

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