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Taliban overrun two Afghan districts; top official killed

Taliban overrun two Afghan districts; top official killed


dpa
Kabul
A high-ranking Afghan government official has been killed in western Farah province, while in northern Badakhshan, Taliban militants overran a district centre, officials said Friday.
Abdul Jalal, assistant director of the anti-terrorism department in Farah, was gunned down by unknown assailants in the provincial capital of the same name on Thursday morning, provincial council member Farid Ahmad Bakhtawar said.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Bakhtawar believes the assassination was carried out by the Taliban.
Masoud Folad, former police chief in Farah, confirmed the incident but gave no further details.
Meanwhile, Taliban fighters overran a district centre in Afghanistan's north-eastern Badakhshan province early Friday, after an intense 24 hours of fighting, Jawid Salim, a spokesman for Afghan Army Special Forces, told dpa.
Salim said the battle for Kohistan district centre left at least five police officers dead, with three more wounded.
Local and national police force members retreated from the district centre and took up stations at nearby villages, Salim said.
Salim added that the reason behind the retreat was lack of technical support and reinforcements not arriving from Faizabad, the capital of the province.
Mahboob Rahman Talat, a provincial council member, confirmed the fall of the district and the number of casualties.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said via Twitter that the militants had killed at least 15 police officers and injured another 14 during the battle. The fall comes after the Taliban's announcement of their annual offensive, after which the militants increased the number of attacks throughout the war-torn country. With Kohistan, Taliban now fully control three districts in the strategic province. The other two districts are Wardoj and Yamgan, under militant control for years.
The incident comes just days after a new finding by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on Tuesday revealed that, as of May this year, the Taliban control 14.5 per cent of Afghan districts, a 0.2-percentage-point jump from its report in October. Some 30 per cent is also contested.
Meanwhile, Afghan security forces'manpower saw an 11-per-cent drop amid the worsening security situation, SIGAR said.

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