The Taliban on Sunday took hold of two major cities in Afghanistan, sparking “total chaos” ahead of the complete US troop withdrawal from the country at the end of the month, according to reports.
The Islamist militant group captured government buildings in Kunduz, a northeastern city, and in Sar-e Pul, a northern provincial capital.
“Fierce street-to-street fighting is ongoing in different parts of the city, ” said Amruddin Wali, a member of the Kunduz provincial council, according to AFP. “Some security forces have retreated towards the airport.”
“Heavy clashes started yesterday afternoon,” he added. “All government headquarters are in control of the Taliban, only the army base and the airport is with ANDSF (Afghan security forces) from where they are resisting the Taliban.”
In Kunduz, one resident said the Taliban had taken a key stretch of the northern Afghanistan city.
“The Taliban have reached the main square of the city. Aircraft are bombing them,” said Abdul Aziz, a resident told the outlet by phone. “There is total chaos.”
Mohammad Noor Rahmani, a Sar-e Pul province official, said a slew of government properties had been taken by the insurgent group.
“Government headquarters, including the governor’s house, police command, and the National Directorate of Security compound, are captured by the Taliban,” he said.
In recent days, the Taliban have ramped up attacks on northern provinces.
On Sunday, a local police source and an official source said Taloqan, the capital of northern Takhar province, was also under pressure, as civilians attempted to leave the city.
The Taliban’s seizures come as the group spurred their fighters into action in Afghanistan in recent months after the United States announced in April it would completely end its military operations in the country by Sept. 11. The US has in recent months been gradually withdrawing troops from the country, where the US military has had a presence for nearly 20 years.
The Taliban on Friday seized provincial capital Zaranj, which sits on the border with Iran in Afghanistan’s southern Nimroz province.
Due to recent violence in the war-torn nation, the United States embassy in Afghanistan said Saturday all Americans should “immediately” leave.
“The US Embassy urges US citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” the embassy said in a statement. “Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul.”
With Post wires