KABUL:Making rapid gains over the past few days, the Taliban have now taken control of 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, sources confirmed on Friday.
Following days of heavy clashes, the insurgents captured Afghanistan’s second- and third-largest cities of Kandahar and Herat on Thursday, and advanced on three more provincial capitals by early Friday.
The Taliban have overrun Pul-e-Alam, capital of the eastern Logar province, which lies less than 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Kabul, the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a series of tweets on Friday.
He said the police headquarters and the general prison in the center of Logar were “conquered,” adding that several soldiers surrendered and many weapons, including two tanks, were seized.
Clashes are ongoing in the southern part of Pul-e-Alam, he said in Twitter posts that also had video clips of the insurgents’ advances in Logar, which is the home province of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
In another major development on Friday, the insurgents said they captured the Afghan National Army’s 207th Zafar Corps and an airport in Herat, and detained veteran Afghan politician Ismail Khan, Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Rehman and other key provincial officials.
A member of the Herat provincial council, Ghulam Habib, told Anadolu Agency that after the fall of the city following days of Taliban attacks, the core Herat leadership took refuge in the army corps, and eventually surrendered to the Taliban on Friday after mediation between the two sides.