Taliban captures district in Afghanistan, attacks city amid U.S. withdrawal

The Taliban says it has captured most of the district of Burka in north-eastern Afghanistan, after 200 government troops surrendered. Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues its withdrawal of troops from the central Asian country.

Baghlan is one of 34 provinces in Afghanistan.

A large number of armored government vehicles, weapons and ammunition were seized by the Taliban, a spokesman for the group, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Twitter.

He added that most areas in the Baghlan district had been “cleared of mercenaries”.

The BBC and local media outlets confirmed that other areas of central Baghlan had been captured by the Taliban.

The armed group captured the Burka district in Baghlan, on Wednesday.

Baghlan police spokesperson Ahmad Jaweed Basharat said that the Burka district had been seized by the Taliban at 10.00 a.m. on May 4 following the withdrawal of government forces.

Bisharat said after clashes broke out, security forces retreated tactically from the Burka district center.

“I can confirm that the enemy has captured the Burka district as a result of an encounter. Security and defense forces tactically, without suffering any losses, withdrew and have plans to recapture it,” Basharat told Arab News.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said on Thursday that it had killed 179 Taliban fighters and wounded 91 others in the Kandahar, Badghis, Balkh, Farah, Helmand, Takhar and Kundoz provinces during 24 past hours. The ministry said it discovered 15 improvised explosive devices.

Violence has flared up in the last week after the U.S. began withdrawing its remaining troops in the war-torn country after two decades of military engagement.

Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes in different parts of the Helmand province after clashes erupted there when U.S. forces handed over a key military base to the Afghan National Army on Sunday, officials said.

The Afghan defense ministry said on Wednesday government forces had killed more than 100 Taliban insurgents in Helmand after the militants attacked some checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah the previous day.

Residents are concerned the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will exacerbate violence in Baghlan too.

Afghan security forces stand near an armored vehicle during ongoing fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in the Busharan area on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital city of Helmand province May 5, 2021. The Taliban say they have captured most of Baghlan’s central Baghlan district in north-eastern Afghanistan, and up to 200 government troops have surrendered.
Sifatullah Zahidi/Getty

“The irresponsible departure of the United States will lead to a house of war,” said Mohammad Alam Elmi, a Baghlan resident, told Pajhwok News last month. “This departure is irresponsible, dishonorable.”

On May 4, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani voiced his concerns about the U.S. withdrawal, warning that the Taliban were “more interested than power than peace” in his country.

At present, at least 2,500 U.S. troops are deployed as part of the 9,600-strong Nato Afghan mission. President Joe Biden wants to complete the pull-out of American troops by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks later this year.

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