Taliban capture second Afghan provincial capital, Sheberghan city: deputy governor.
The Taliban on Saturday captured Sheberghan, capital of the northwestern province of Jawzjan, the second regional capital to fall to the insurgents in the past 24 hours, an achievement not seen since the start in May of the final phase of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
“Sheberghan, the provincial capital, has fallen. The capital is now in the hands of the insurgents,” Karim Jawzjani, MP for Jawzjan province in the lower house of the national parliament, told Efe.
According to the MP, “only the Army Regiment is under the control of the security forces and the rest of the city is in the hands of the insurgents”, which fell to the Taliban this morning after several days of heavy fighting.
A member of the Jawzjan Provincial Council, Bismillah Sahel, also confirmed to Efe that “Sheberghan town fell into the hands of the insurgents for now, almost all parts of the town are in the hands of the Taliban,” he stressed.
Earlier, senior Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid made the announcement on his official Twitter account: “The strategic capital of Jawzjan, Sheberghan, has been liberated by the mujahideen”.
The insurgent spokesman said that, according to the first available information, police and intelligence headquarters and “all related buildings” were now under Taliban control.
Second provincial capital to fall
The Taliban also claimed early Friday afternoon control of the city of Zaranj, capital of the southwestern province of Nimroz, the first to fall to insurgents since the start of a major offensive across the country in May.
“Nimroz has become the first province to be completely liberated from the mujahedin,” Mujahid said of the region bordering Iran.
This has not yet been officially confirmed by the Afghan government, but MPs such as Ahmad Noorzad told local media Ariana News that the insurgents had captured key government compounds such as the governor’s office, police headquarters and the prison.
A leading Afghan media outlet, Tolo News, also reported, but did not disclose its sources, the Taliban’s fall of Zaranj, which was accompanied by the flight of “hundreds of the city’s residents, who flocked to the Iranian border in a desperate search for safety”.
This was the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban since the start of their major offensive across the country that coincided with the start on 1 May of the final phase of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, which is expected to be completed this month according to US President Joe Biden’s announcement.
Since then, insurgents have managed to capture some 125 district centres, the first time in two decades of war that they have gained control of so many areas in such a short period of time.
The Afghan army, with occasional support from US aircraft, is intensifying its fighting to regain lost territory, with clashes in at least 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces leaving at least 385 insurgents dead and 210 wounded in the past 24 hours, according to the defence ministry.