Lawmaker: Taliban seize Afghan province south of capital – News Vibe24

    Lawmaker: Taliban seize Afghan province south of capital - Times of India
    KABUL: An Afghan lawmaker says the Taliban have taken over Logar province, south of the capital, Kabul.
    Homa Ahmadi, a lawmaker from Logar, says the Taliban control the entire province, including its capital, and reached an area in the neighboring province of Kabul on Saturday.
    This puts the guerrillas less than 80 kilometers south of the nation’s capital. The Taliban also occupied much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan less than three weeks before the United States withdrew its last troops.
    The Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack early Saturday in Mazar-e-Sharif, a large city in northern Afghanistan defended by powerful former warlords.
    Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman for the provincial governor in the northern province of Balkh, said the Taliban had attacked the city from several directions, causing fierce fighting on its outskirts. There was no immediate information on casualties.
    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flew to Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday to rally the city’s defense, meeting with several militia commanders who allied with the government.
    The Taliban have occupied much of southern Afghanistan in recent days in a swift attack that sparked fears of a full takeover less than three weeks before the United States withdrew its last troops.
    The Taliban have occupied most of northern, western and southern Afghanistan in recent weeks, leaving the Western-backed government in control of a number of provinces in the center and east, as well as the capital, Kabul.
    The withdrawal of foreign forces and the rapid withdrawal of Afghan troops themselves – despite hundreds of billions of dollars in US aid in recent years – have raised fears that the Taliban will return to power or the country could plunge into civil war.
    The first Marines from a group of 3,000 arrived on Friday to help partially evacuate the US embassy. The rest are due to arrive by Sunday and their growth has raised questions about whether management will meet the August 31st departure deadline.
    Meanwhile, the Taliban released a video in which an anonymous rebel announced the capture of the central radio station in the southern city of Kandahar, which fell to the rebels earlier this week.
    The station was renamed the Voice of Sharia, or Islamic law. He said all the workers were present and would broadcast news, political analysis and recitations of the Koran, the Islamic holy book. It seems that the station will no longer play music.
    It was unclear whether the Taliban had cleared the former officials or allowed them to return to work. Most Kandahar residents wear the traditional dress preferred by the Taliban. The man in the video congratulated the people of Kandahar on the victory of the Taliban.
    The Taliban have operated mobile radio stations all these years, but have not operated a station in a major city since they ruled the country from 1996-2001. At the time, they were also running a station called Voice of Sharia outside Kandahar, the militant group’s birthplace. Music was banned.
    The United States invaded shortly after the 9/11 attacks, which were planned and carried out by al-Qaeda and were protected by the Taliban. After the rapid ousting of the Taliban, the United States turned to nation-building, hoping to create a modern Afghan state after decades of war and unrest.
    Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced a timetable for the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of August, pledging to end America’s longest-running war. His predecessor, President Donald Trump, had reached an agreement with the Taliban to pave the way for US withdrawal.
    Biden’s announcement set in motion the latest attack. The Taliban, which has long controlled large parts of the Afghan countryside, moved quickly to seize provincial capitals, borders and other key infrastructure. They are now 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Kabul.
    Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes, with many fearing a return to oppressive Taliban rule. The group had previously ruled Afghanistan under a harsh version of Islamic law, in which women were largely confined to the home.

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