3 Afghan districts change hands in 24 hrs

The escalating fighting and ambiguity over the future of Afghanistan have triggered concerns among the civilians as both the government forces and the Taliban have been fighting to gain more grounds with three districts having changed hands over the past 24 hours.

Taliban militants, according to media reports, seized Garmsir and Marja districts of Helmand province on Thursday, while an army statement claimed that the government troops recaptured Karukh district in Herat province on Friday.

The government forces have also evicted Taliban militants from several villages from around Kunduz city, provincial police chief Zabardast Khan Safi said.

Since the start of the withdrawal of the US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan early in May, the Taliban fighters have intensified activities and overrun more than 170 districts, according to reports.

Ahmad Nader Nadery, a senior government official and a member of the Afghan government negotiation team for peace talks with the Taliban, has confirmed Taliban rule over 116 districts in 29 provinces.

However, a Taliban spokesman for the group’s Doha office has claimed the seizure of some 200 districts over the past two months.

Spokesman for the Defence Ministry Fawad Aman said recently that the government forces would launch counter-offensive to recapture all the districts overrun by the Taliban outfit.

According to the Ministry on Friday, a total of 152 Taliban fighters have been killed and 53 others injured over the past 24 hours elsewhere in the country and the security and defence forces would continue to chase the insurgents.

The tug of war and uncertainty of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban has disappointed many Afghans over the future of their country.

The last round of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban delegation in Qatari capital Doha ended on July 18 without any significant progress except consensus for continuing the talks.

Taliban militants have been demanding the removal of President Ashraf Ghani from power, a pre-condition that has been rejected by Kabul, according to media reports.

“From one hand we are pushing for talks on the negotiating table and from the other, we are fighting on battle ground to defend ourselves,” spokesman for the Presidential Palace Dawa Khan Menapal told local media on Friday.

Accusing the Taliban of pushing for war, Khan added: “Taliban militants do nothing except suicide attacks, bomb blasts and killing people as they killed more than 100 civilians in Kandahar recently” and “providing no service.”