Taliban have claimed that they have captured four of the seven districts of Panjshir Valley, the last Afghan province holding out against the group.
Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi said the districts of Khinj and Unabah had been taken, giving Taliban forces control of four of the province's seven districts. "The Mujahideen (Taliban fighters) are advancing towards the centre (of the province)," he said on Twitter.
کوه های سر به فلک پنجشیر قدم های پاک مجاهدین امارت اسلامی را می بوسند، و لله الحمد.— Bilal Karimi(بلال کریمي) (@BilalKarimi21) September 4, 2021
مردم شریف و باعزت پنجشیر از چنگ کثیف حلقه جنگ طلب و جاسوس بیگانگان در حال ازادی کامل استند.
هر نقطه کشور عزیز ارزش والایی دارد و عضو جدایی ناپذیر پیکر مطهر خاک پاک این سر زمین است. pic.twitter.com/KtunilcQvt
The Taliban, which took power in the rest of the country three weeks ago, were never able to control the valley when they last ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001.
But the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, grouping forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said it surrounded "thousands of terrorists" in Khawak pass and the Taliban had abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area.
Front spokesman Fahim Dashti added "heavy clashes" were going on.
In a Facebook post, Massoud insisted Panjshir "continues to stand strongly". Praising "our honourable sisters", he said demonstrations by women in the western city of Herat calling for their rights showed Afghans had not given up demands for justice and "they fear no threats".
Earlier, a Taliban source said the group's advance was slowed by landmines placed on the road to the provincial capital, Bazarak.
Emergency, an Italian medical aid organisation, said that during Friday night, Taliban forces had pushed further into the Panjshir Valley, reaching the village of Anabah where the group has a surgical centre and a maternity centre.
"We have received a small number of wounded people at the Anabah Surgical Centre," Emergency said in a statement, adding that many people fled from local villages in recent days.
It was not immediately possible to get further independent confirmation of events in Panjshir, which is walled off by mountains except for a narrow entrance.
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