- Ghazni city, barely 150 kilometres (95 miles) from Kabul, is the tenth Afghan provincial capital to fall in the last week.
- The Taliban seized a police headquarters in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, and the strategically important city fell mere hours later.
According to a prominent lawmaker, Taliban has captured the key Afghan city of Ghazni which is barely 150 kilometres (95 miles) from Kabul.
The city is situated along the key Kabul-Kandahar roadway, which effectively connects Kabul with militant strongholds in the south. It is the tenth province capital in a week to fall to militants.
“The Taliban took control of the governor’s office, the police headquarters, and the prison,” Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, the province council’s head, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
He went on to say that while battle was still going on in some parts of the city, the province capital was mainly in the hands of the insurgents.
According to a statement issued on social media by the Taliban’s spokesman, the city has been seized.
Since May, when US-led forces began the final step of a troop withdrawal that is set to end later this month after a 20-year occupation, the Afghan conflict has intensified.
The loss of the Ghazni will likely put even more strain on Afghanistan’s already overworked Air Force, which is needed to support the country’s dispersed security forces, which are increasingly cut off from reinforcements by road.
In less than a week, the militants have taken control of ten provincial capitals and have encircled the country’s largest city, Mazar-i-Sharif, the traditional anti-Taliban bastion.
Fighting raged in Kandahar and Lashkar Gar in the south, as well as Herat in the west, in the pro-Taliban heartlands.
The Taliban seized control of Kandahar’s heavily guarded jail late Wednesday, claiming that it had been “completely captured after a long siege” and that “hundreds of captives were released and escorted safely.”
The Taliban frequently attack prisons in order to release detained fighters and replenish their ranks.
For weeks, the Taliban have been besieging the country’s second city, and the fall of the jail is yet another negative sign.
The city was once a stronghold of the Taliban, whose forces assembled in the same-named province in the early 1990s, and its capture would be a major tactical and psychological victory for the extremists.