The Taliban raised the provincial capitals captured in just over a week in Afghanistan to 19 on Saturday , after two more fell in the southeast of the country: Sharana, the regional capital of Paktika, and Qalaq, the capital of Zabul.
“Officials have evacuated the governor’s house and the police headquarters and the Taliban have entered the city, ” said the deputy for Paktika province in the lower house of the national parliament, Khalid Asad.
Sharana was handed over peacefully and without “firing a bullet,” Asad noted, as government officials and security forces evacuated the city after reaching an agreement with the Taliban through tribal leaders in the area. The Taliban also claimed the capture of the capital.
“The Mujahideen from the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) entered the city of Sharana in Paktika. All defensive checkpoints in the city were conquered,” top Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid revealed on Twitter.
The insurgents also took control on Friday of Qalaq , the capital of Zabul, while they took the neighboring province of Kandahar, as confirmed to Efe this Saturday by a deputy for the province in the national Parliament, who requested anonymity.
“The city of Qalat, capital of Zabul province, was also captured during the conquest (of Kandahar). The governor’s office, the police headquarters, the intelligence center and all the facilities of the city were captured by Mujahideen, “said the Taliban spokesman.
After the conquest, “the soldiers laid down their arms and joined the mujahideen, ” Mujadih sentenced.
The falls of Sharana and Qalaq occur in the context of the unstoppable Taliban advance , which after the beginning last May of the final phase of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan have increased their offensive in the country.
In the last three and a half months, the insurgents have taken control of 140 district centers , 19 provincial capitals and almost ten border crossings, the largest territorial conquest in two decades of war.
Meanwhile, the security forces are fighting with the Taliban in five of the 34 Afghan provinces , in which at least 172 insurgents were killed and another 107 wounded, according to the latest report issued by the Afghan Defense Ministry.
Afghan President Launches “Consultation Process”
The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, announced this Saturday the beginning of a process of national and international consultations to prevent the complete destabilization of the country in the face of the inexorable Taliban advance in the provincial capitals.
Ghani is criticized by the Taliban, who do not recognize him as a legitimate interlocutor , and by a large part of the population, fed up with the endemic corruption of their government.
For some time now, the president has completely refused to announce a transitional government in the country and to leave office after new elections, a solution proposed by US diplomats, considering that it would be an unconstitutional act.
In fact, according to sources in the British newspaper The Independent , the Secretaries of Defense and State US , Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken spoke with Ghani phone to insist that renounce office and announced the formation of a transitional government to facilitate a ceasefire.
Now, in a speech to the nation, Ghani has announced the beginning of “broad consultations inside and outside the government, with political leaders and international partners” to “prevent further instability, violence and displacement of my people . ”
“I will soon share the results of these consultations with my people,” said the president in his speech, picked up by Tolo News .
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