Key district falls to Taliban in south-east Afghanistan

Taliban militants took control of a strategically important district in south-east Afghanistan on Friday night, officials said, as the militant group continues to make advances across the country. 

"Government forces made a tactical retreat from Janikhel district centre but are still in the area," said Sayed Gul Hotak, spokesman for the governor of Paktia province, on Saturday. 

However, Allah Mir Khan Bahramzoi, a provincial council member from Paktia, said that the district governor and police chief had retreated to a neighbouring district after their forces were overwhelmed. 

Adjacent to Pakistan, Janikhel is of key importance to the Taliban, which has safe havens on both sides of the border.

Bahramzoi said the district had been under siege for a long time and had almost fallen to the Taliban two weeks earlier.

It would be difficult for ground troops to retake it without support from the Afghan airforce due to its mountainous location, he added.

He said dozens of families had been displaced from the district's centre. 

Army forces in Paktia, a remote province where several districts are already under Taliban control or being fought over, said that troops and police from the provincial capital were heading to the district and an effort to retake it would be launched soon. 

Serious ongoing fighting in the provinces of Helmand, Kunduz and Baghlan is stretching Afghan security forces thin.

Militants have stepped up attacks since the holy month of Ramadan ended at the beginning of July.

Last update: Sat, 27/08/2016 - 09:57
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