Taliban attack capital of northwestern Afghanistan province

HERAT / KABUL (Reuters) – Taliban insurgents reached entry points to the capital of northwestern Afghanistan’s Badghis province on Wednesday, officials said, causing panic among locals and urging prisoners to escape from the city jail.

Provincial governor Husamuddin Shams told Reuters that the Taliban attacked the town of Qala-e-Naw from three directions in the morning and that Afghan security forces were fighting back.

“They entered parts of the city, but later the enemy faced a strong reaction,” he said. “Right now, after about two hours of clashes in the city, the enemy is forced to retreat.”

Local authorities described a state of panic.

“Qala-e-Naw was in a state of disarray as the security forces and people don’t know what to do now,” said Abdul Aziz Bek, head of Badghis provincial council.

“More than 200 inmates from the Badghis central prison broke the prison gate and escaped,” Bek said.

As foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, Taliban fighters are rapidly gaining ground in towns in the northern and western provinces, forcing soldiers to surrender and civilians to flee.

Shams said other areas of Badghis outside the capital were in Taliban hands when the security forces were evacuated.

Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi said in a statement that the war was entering a “difficult” phase and that the security forces “were defending Afghanistan and our compatriots with all their strength and all their resources. circumstances “.

Negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators in Qatar have not yielded substantial progress in recent months, although warring parties have held meetings in recent days.

Iran told representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government on Wednesday that it was ready to help end the crisis in Afghanistan, urging the country’s people and politicians to make “tough decisions” about its future.

Hosting a meeting of representatives of the Afghan government and a high-level Taliban political committee, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “committing to political solutions is the best choice”.

(Afghanistan office report, edited by William Maclean)

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