Fighting escalates as Taliban attempts to capture Herat

Fighting in Afghanistan has further intensified as Taliban militants have started attacking to gain more ground in Herat province and tighten the noose around the provincial capital Herat city.

The militants have launched an offensive against security checkpoints in the tourist destination of Pul-e-Malan area, Karakh and Gazara districts on Wednesday afternoon while the attacks have been repulsed, a provincial government official told Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

“Taliban had military activities last night but their attempts have been beaten back and about 40 militants were killed in Gazara and Karakh districts. Unfortunately, four security personnel sustained injuries in Pul-e-Malan area,” the official added.

Farhad also confirmed that sporadic fighting is still going on in parts of the said areas.

Taliban militants, who have captured the dry port Islam Qala and Torghundi in Herat province, have been fighting to overrun Herat city.

The Islam Qala Customs department, which connects Afghanistan to Iran as the main trade crossing point, is yet to be recaptured by Afghanistan forces.

The armed group has also ruled Torghundi dry port along the border with Turkmenistan since its fall to the Taliban last month.

Taliban militants have overrun some 200 districts since the US-led forces started to pull out from Afghanistan in early May.

It will be regarded as a big achievement for the Taliban if the group captures Herat city, local observers said.

Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammad said that government forces would soon launch counter-offensives to recapture all the districts from the Taliban outfit.

More than 200 militants, according to security officials, have been killed elsewhere in Afghanistan over the past 24 hours.

The claim was rejected by the Taliban as baseless.