Militants Kill 15 in Afghan Attacks, as Taliban Expand Their Control

In northern Afghanistan, the Taliban seized control of two districts on Tuesday, local and national officials said, bringing to 15 the number of Afghanistan’s 407 districts under insurgent control, based on figures from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, an American government watchdog agency. In addition, the agency said, another 46 districts are under insurgent influence.

About 65 percent of Afghans live in areas under government control or influence, while the rest live in areas under insurgent control or influence.

In Faryab Province, the center of Bal Chiragh district and the area’s government buildings fell to a Taliban attack Tuesday night, according to Jamil Sediqi, the governor of that district. The rest of the area had already been under Taliban control.

Militants Kill 15 in Afghan Attacks, as Taliban Expand Their Control
Militants Kill 15 in Afghan Attacks, as Taliban Expand Their Control

In Baghlan Province, the Taliban took Tala Wa Barfak, which has long been the object of heavy fighting, according to Zabihullah Shoja, a spokesman for the provincial police department. The district had previously fallen to Taliban control in 2015 but the government later retook it. It is a strategic area, lying on a main east-west highway linking the central Afghan province of Bamian to the rest of the country.

Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak confirmed that the two districts had fallen to the Taliban, but vowed to retake them. He blamed lack of sufficient air support for the loss.

“We accept that two districts fell but we also have our concerns and need to act responsibly,” he said. “If we want to act, we need to be able to provide air support. For example, we did our best to provide air support for Tala Wa Barfak district but unfortunately we couldn’t do anything.”

Officials did not immediately have any report on casualties in the takeover of the two districts.

Abdul Wares, the district governor, confirmed that an airstrike had killed the police officers but did not say who carried it out.

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