The Taliban and Afghan forces have regularly clashed in and around Kandahar city. File photo
Afghan Taliban have captured a key district of Kandahar after fierce night-time fighting with Afghan government forces, officials said on Sunday.
Kandahar was their former bastion. Taliban's march through northern Afghanistan gained momentum overnight with the capture of several districts from fleeing Afghan forces.
Since early May when the US military began the pullout the insurgents have pressed on with their campaign to capture territory across.
In this handout photo released by National Security of the Republic of Tajikistan shows the Afghan soldiers sit at a bridge in Tajikistan. AP
The fall of Panjwai district in the southern province of Kandahar comes just two days after US and NATO forces vacated their main Bagram Air Base near Kabul, from where they led operations for two decades against the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies.
More than 300 Afghan military personnel crossed from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province as Taliban fighters advanced toward the border, Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security said in a statement. The Afghan troops crossed over at about 6:30pm local time Saturday
"Guided by the principles of humanism and good neighborliness,” the Tajik authorities allowed the retreating Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to cross into Tajikistan, said the statement
The US begins the pullout of its troops the insurgents have pressed on.
Over the years, the Taliban and Afghan forces have regularly clashed in and around Panjwai, with the insurgents aiming to seize it given its proximity to Kandahar city, the provincial capital.
The province of Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, who went on to rule Afghanistan with a harsh version of Islamic sharia law until being overthrown by a US-led invasion in 2001.
Fighting has raged across several provinces, but the insurgents have primarily focused on a devastating campaign across the northern countryside, seizing dozens of districts in the past two months.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid accused Ghani of lying and spreading false information as reacting to Ghani's remark on Monday that the ongoing war is an external intrigue imposed on the people of Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands of people flee their homes for the relative safety of Kabul and other centres after Taliban militants captured a sixth provincial capital, along with border towns and trade routes.
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