Government says provincial capitals Herat, Kandahar, Lashkargah attacked, insurgents claim capturing key Herat district.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Taliban attempts to capture three major cities in Afghanistan have been successfully repulsed, officials said on Saturday.
The insurgents mounted assaults on the cities of Lashkargah and Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west on Friday evening, but were driven away as Afghan forces inflicted heavy casualties on them, Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirwais Stanekzai said in a statement.
Lashkargah and Kandahar are the capitals of the Helmand and Kandahar provinces, which lie next to Pakistan, while Herat is the capital of the Herat province that borders Iran.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said on Saturday that 131 Taliban fighters were killed, 62 wounded, and five others arrested in security operations in Ghazni, Paktika, Kandahar, Zabul, Herat, Jowzjan, Takhar, and Kapisa provinces over the past 24 hours.
Nine improvised explosive devices were also found and defused, the ministry said on Twitter.
Climate of fear in Afghanistan’s 3rd largest city
On Friday evening, the Taliban were said to be at the door of Afghanistan’s third-biggest city Herat, which has a population of around 2 million.
A UN regional office was also attacked in the city, drawing widespread condemnations.
Herat’s provincial government claimed the insurgents were pushed back from the Guzara district located next to the city, with at least 200 Taliban killed and wounded in air and ground offensives.
However, there is still “a climate of fear and anxiety all through Herat city,” Ahmad Karkhi, a member of the provincial assembly, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
The Taliban, for their part, claimed to have captured the Karkh and Guzara districts of Herat province.
The insurgents also said the UN office was hit in cross fire and not deliberately targeted.
The local Salam Afghanistan radio reported clashes between the Taliban and security forces in Kandahar and the city of Taluqan, capital of the northeastern Takhar province bordering Tajikistan.
Down south in Lashkargah, the Taliban claimed a public hospital was destroyed in an air raid by Afghan government forces.