Kabul: The Taliban making in its bid to gain dominance in Afghanistan on Saturday managed to capture Sheberghan city in Jawzjan. This was confirmed by the deputy governor as reported by news agency AFP.
Sheberghan is the second Afghan provincial capital to fall to the insurgents in less than 24 hours.
“The (government) forces and officials have retreated to the airport,” Jawzjan deputy governor Qader Malia told AFP.
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The city houses notorious warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who had returned to Afghanistan this week after being in Turkey for medical treatment.
Since launching a series of offensives in May, the Taliban have gained control over vast parts of rural Afghanistan.
Taliban on Friday took over the Zaranj city in Nimroz. The first provincial capital to be taken by the insurgents fell “without a fight”, according to its deputy governor.
There was more resistance in Sheberghan, AFP reported sources as saying while an aide to Dostum confirmed that the city had been taken.
The Taliban has been employing violence to make rapid advances across Afghanistan in a bid to gain control after the United States began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1.
The Taliban ambushed and assassinated the director of Afghanistan’s government media center on Friday in the capital, Kabul after an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the country’s acting defense minister.
The Taliban have been targeting government officials and those they perceive as working for the government or foreign forces
Earlier this week, a Taliban bombing attempted to kill the acting defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. While Mohammadi was unharmed, the attack in a heavily guarded upscale Kabul neighborhood late Tuesday killed at least eight people and wounded 20.
Meanwhile, amid the chaos, America has already withdrawn the majority of its forces and is planning to complete the exercise by August 31.
The US Embassy in Afghanistan has also urged its citizens to leave the country “immediately using available commercial flight options”.
“Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul,” it said.
(With inputs from agencies)