Government troops push back Taliban from west city in Afghanistan

An Army vehicle damaged during this week’s battle between Afghan security forces and Taliban in Farah province

An Army vehicle damaged during this week’s battle between Afghan security forces and Taliban in Farah province

The Taleban claimed to have captured the capital of the western province of Farah on Tuesday (May 15), while government officials and their U.S. military backers vowed that the authorities would quickly oust insurgents from the city, the first to be overrun by the militants in two years.

About 300 Taliban militants have been killed in the Farah province in western Afghanistan in clashes with the country's security forces, local media reported, citing the provincial governor.

"Security checkpoints around the city have collapsed in the hands of the Taliban, causing high casualties among security forces", he said.

Taliban fighters are said to be just a few kilometres from the city centre with fierce fighting between the militants and government troops continuing.

The clashes started at about 2am early Tuesday after Taliban insurgents started clashes in the city, a member of the provincial council Dadullah Qane said, adding that "clashes are ongoing in several parts of the city and close to National Directorate of Security (NDS) department".

Farah province has seen heavy fighting in recent months, with local officials and tribal elders requesting additional forces to support the overburdened army and police.

Afghan forces have struggled to fight the Taliban in recent years as the insurgents have seized several districts across the country.

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Ghazni.

Ashraf Ghani Afghanistan's president speaking at an event in Herat in February
Ashraf Ghani Afghanistan's president speaking at an event in Herat in February

Taliban fighters stand guard as senior leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, not pictured, delivers a speech to his fighters, in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.

"The people are running from the city and the situation is very bad", said a resident of Farah.

The Taliban stormed the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning and were pushed back early Wednesday, said Salangi.

"They kill one, and they claim three", said General Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was contradicting official government reports.

The Taliban issued a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".

The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year. In 2017, insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network. Despite the pressure of greatly stepped-up US and Afghan airstrikes, the Taliban have shown little interest in the Afghan government's offer of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Although the insurgents have been unable to take and hold any provincial centre, they are active across Afghanistan and the government has firm control over no more than 56 percent of the country, according to US estimates.

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