Taliban captures key northern Afghan city Mazar-i-Sharif

The Taliban have captured a large, heavily defended city in northern Afghanistan in a major setback for the government.

The fall on Saturday of Mazar-i-Sharif, the country’s fourth largest city, which Afghan forces and two powerful former warlords had pledged to defend, hands the Taliban control over all of northern Afghanistan, confining the Western-backed government to the centre and east.

Taliban capture Mazar-i-Sharif, fourth largest Afghan city

Taliban fighters have captured Mazar-i-Sharif, the northern city that was the Afghan government’s last northern stronghold, with security forces fleeing to the Uzbekistan border, a provincial official said.

“The Taliban have taken control of Mazar-i-Sharif,” Afzal Hadid, head of the Balkh provincial council said, adding that the city appeared to have fallen without a fight. Soldiers abandoned their equipment and headed towards the border crossing, he said.

“All security forces have left Mazar city,” he said, though sporadic clashes were still taking place in one area outside the city centre.

Balkh lawmaker Abas Ebrahimzada said the province’s national army corps surrendered first, which prompted the pro-government militias and other forces to lose morale and give up in the face of the onslaught.

Kabul overwhelmed by internally displaced

Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul is facing an increasing humanitarian crisis as thousands of people stream into the city to escape violence elsewhere.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reports from Kabul.

Afghanistan picks Sadat to lead Kabul security affairs

Afghanistan has appointed Lieutenant General Syed Samai Sadat to lead the security affairs of Kabul province, the presidential palace announced.

Previously, Sadat was in charge of the government’s security efforts in Helmand province. The province fell to the Taliban late last week.

Sadat’s latest appointment comes days after he was selected to lead special operations for the Afghan National Security Forces as the Taliban inches closer to the capital, Kabul.

Taliban gains give investors cause for concern beyond Afghanistan

The Taliban’s rapid advance towards Kabul is not only causing concern about Afghanistan’s future but also about the impact on other countries in the region and their economies.

Iran and then Iraq lie to the west of Afghanistan. Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are to the north. But the immediate focus for financial markets and investors is Pakistan to the east.

Pakistan has a large public debt, a sizeable equity market and is dependent on a $6bn IMF programme. The prospect of years of violence and waves of refugees will add pressure to its fiscal repair plans.

“It is a very troubling situation and unfortunately has set the region back many years,” said Shamaila Khan, head of emerging market debt at AllianceBernstein. “I think the neighbouring countries will have to deal with an influx of refugees in the coming months/years”.

Qatar urges Taliban to cease fire at meeting in Doha

Qatar said it had urged the Taliban to cease fire and pull back their offensive in Afghanistan during a meeting between the Qatari foreign minister and a top representative of the group in Doha on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met the head of the Taliban’s political bureau, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to follow up on peace talks hosted by the Gulf country, the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

“The foreign minister urged the Taliban at the meeting to let up the escalation and to cease fire,” it said.

Czech Republic evacuates embassy in Kabul

The Czech Republic was evacuating its two diplomats from its embassy in Kabul on Saturday, Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said.

“I have decided on the immediate evacuation of our diplomats to the international airport in Kabul,” Kulhanek said.

Afghan forces repulse major Taliban assault

Afghan forces claimed on Saturday to have repulsed a major Taliban assault by hundreds of fighters in the key northern city of Maymana, killing 27.

At least 2,000 Taliban fighters staged a coordinated assault on the provincial capital of Maymana late on Friday.

“(Twenty-seven) Taliban terrorists were killed and 16 others were wounded in the clash, including Mullah Shoaib, the head of the Taliban’s military commission and a number of Pakistani militants,” Abdul Karim Yurish, spokesman for the police command, told Anadolu news agency.

He added that air strikes were also conducted on the rebels.

Related Articles

Back to top button