Taliban seize key district on outskirts of Afghan capital despite ceasefire
The Taliban militant group has captured a key district in Afghanistan’s central Province of Wardak, despite the announcement of a three-day ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The militants seized the Nerkh district, located around 40 kilometers from the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, pushing government forces out.
Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Tariq Arian said on Wednesday that security and defense forces had made “a tactical retreat” from the district center, after a heavy firefight with the Taliban militants.
Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed in a post on Twitter that the militants had killed and captured some members of the Afghan security forces, adding that they had seized the police headquarters and an army base in the district, as well as a large cache of ammunition.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that it would launch an offensive to win back the district, which is home to more than 60,000 people.
“Commando reinforcements are on their way,” Fawad Aman, a Spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said.
The seizure of Nerkh, which has long been used by the militants as a gateway to reach Kabul and launch deadly attacks, comes amid a surge in violence in war-ravaged Afghanistan. The country has witnessed a sharp increase in civilian deaths due to rising terrorist attacks over the recent months.
The United States was supposed to pull all its forces out of Afghanistan by May 1 as agreed with the Taliban last year, but Washington pushed back the date to September 11.