Taliban fighters are seen inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul. AP
The Taliban seized three more provincial capitals in Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday, putting nine of the nation's 34 in the insurgents' hands amid the US withdrawal from the country as tens of thousands of people fled their homes in the north for the relative safety of the capital and other centres.
An official confirmed on Wednesday that 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Kabul, Taliban fighters took control of another city in northern Afghanistan.
Taliban noose tightens around northern Afghanistan
Taliban take another Afghan provincial capital
A provincial council member from Badakhshan told the local media reporters that after the Taliban capture of Faizabad — the capital of the northeastern province of Badakhshan — after a long battle, government forces retreated to a neighbouring district, Jawad Mujadidi.
He said Taliban fighters had taken most of the province and laid siege to Faizabad before launching an offensive on Tuesday.
Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani arrives in Mazar-i-Sharif to check the security situation on Wednesday. Reuters
The far northeastern province of Badakhshan borders Tajikistan, Pakistan and China.
Although Ghani flew to the besieged northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Wednesday to rally his beleaguered forces, with Taliban fighters having now taken more than a quarter of the country's provincial capitals in less than a week.
Ghani arrived in Mazar as the Taliban captured Faizabad overnight, making it the ninth city to be overrun since Friday.
A still image shows what appear to be militants on a pickup truck with a gun in Afghanistan. Reuters
He plans "to check the general security in the northern zone", according to a statement released by the palace.
Afghans receive medical care after being injured in fighting between the Taliban and forces in Mazar-e-Sharif. AP
The loss of Mazar would be a catastrophic blow to the Kabul government and represent the complete collapse of its control over the north -- long a bastion of anti-Taliban militias.
Government officials have appealed for pressure on Pakistan to stop Taliban reinforcements and supplies flowing over the border. Pakistan denies backing the Taliban.
The government has withdrawn from hard-to-defend rural districts to focus on holding population centres. In some places, government forces have given up without a fight.
In Geneva on Tuesday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said reports of violations that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity were emerging, including "deeply disturbing reports" of the summary execution of surrendering government troops.
Internally displaced families from northern provinces take shelter in a public park in Kabul, Afghanistan. Reuters
Six EU member states warned the bloc's executive against halting deportations of rejected Afghan asylum seekers arriving in Europe, fearing a possible replay of a 2015-16 crisis over the arrival of more than a million migrants, mainly from the Middle East.
Afghan government forces battled Taliban fighters in and around several cities on Thursday, officials said, as the militants pressed on with their offensive that US intelligence believes could see them take over the capital, Kabul, within 90 days.
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
The Afghan president on Thursday praised Pakistan’s efforts to advance the peace process in the region as he reached out to Islamabad for help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Kabul government,
Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir confirmed Elahi's arrest, saying he was in his vehicle and "trying to flee" when he was arrested.
Social media users reacted strongly to the video and the villagers' predicament with comments slamming the concerned authorities for reneging on their promise to provide good rural connectivity.
The marriage of Crown Prince Hussein, 28, and Saudi architect Rajwa Al Saif, 29, drew a star-studded guest list including Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, as well as US First Lady Jill Biden.
The authorities said that after the issuance of the visit visa, the tourist must enter the country within 60 days from the date of issuance, and the validity of the entry permit will be 30 days or 60 days, depending on the visa sought.