Government Forces, Taliban Battling In Remote Afghan Provincial Capital

Canadian soldiers patrol an area in the Dand district of southern Afghanistan on Sunday

Canadian soldiers patrol an area in the Dand district of southern Afghanistan on Sunday

Taliban militants attacked Farah city, provincial capital of western Afghan province of Farah early Tuesday, in a coordinated effort to seize full control of the city, a provincial security source said.

The clashes started at about 2am early Tuesday after Taliban insurgents started clashes in the city, a member of the provincial council Dadullah Qane said, adding that "clashes are ongoing in several parts of the city and close to National Directorate of Security (NDS) department".

But the defence ministry said the army had repulsed the attack, and "the security forces are now chasing the enemy".

Action grouping "Taliban" in the city of Farah in Western Afghanistan was attacked.

One of the attacks was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the other by the Taliban. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

In January, NATO's Resolute Support Mission, tasked with building up the Afghan government's security forces, assessed that almost 15 percent of the country's 407 districts - more than 20 percent of the landmass - was under insurgent control or influence, according to a watchdog report released this month.

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Government forces including 100 commandoes have arrived and are clashing with the insurgents, a local provincial council member told AFP, as residents said the situation was "very bad". "Gunfight, airstrikes and explosions are taking place around the city", he said.

Residents in Farah have long warned that the city was vulnerable.

Inamullah Miakhial, a Nangarhar hospital spokesman, also confirmed the dead toll and said that more than 40 wounded people are undergoing treatment at the hospital.

"An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details. Local residents fear the whole province may fall to the insurgents. There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it.

Footage released on social media shows that a number of security forces' vehicles have been torched and that the Taliban have entered a building used by the security forces. In 2017 insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

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