Taliban get rid of Afghan media main in Kabul consider southern city

Tameem Akhgar and Kathy Gannon, The Linked Press


Revealed Friday, August 6, 2021 11:21AM EDT


Final Current Friday, August 6, 2021 11:21AM EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Taliban ambushed and killed the director of Afghanistan’s government media heart on Friday in the capital, Kabul, the most current killing of a governing administration official just times immediately after an assassination try on the country’s acting protection minister.

The slaying comes amid significant Taliban advancements. In a main but symbolic victory, the Taliban on Friday appeared to have taken their 1st provincial cash – the metropolis of Zaranj in southern Nimroz province. The governing administration, however, claimed there was even now intense fighting close to critical infrastructure in the town and that Zaranj experienced not fallen.

But the Taliban posted visuals on social media displaying insurgents inside the regional airport and posing for photos at the entrance to the city. Nimroz is sparsely populated in a region which is largely desert and Zaranj, the provincial capital, has about 50,000 residents. The province’s governor, Abdul Karim Barahawi, fled Zaranj for refuge in the tranquil Chahar Burjak district, exactly where the neighborhood ethnic Baluch inhabitants has specified him security.

The Taliban have been surging for months in Afghanistan, taking swaths of land as U.S. and NATO forces complete their final pullout from the place by the conclude of the thirty day period. The battles intensified lately as the Taliban laid siege to provincial capitals in southern and western Afghanistan, just after capturing district just after district and even seizing quite a few critical border crossings.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid instructed The Related Push that the insurgents killed Dawa Khan Menapal, the chief of the Afghan government’s press functions for area and international media. He had beforehand been a deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The assassination took put all through weekly Friday prayers in Kabul, in accordance to the Interior Ministry’s deputy spokesman, Claimed Hamid Rushan. Following the shooting, Afghan forces fanned out throughout the community exactly where Menapal was gunned down though driving in his auto. Mujahid put out a assertion boasting obligation and stated Menapal “was killed in a distinctive attack” by the mujahedeen, or holy warriors.

The Taliban generally focus on govt officials and all those they understand as operating for the govt or international forces, even though several current attacks have been claimed by the Islamic Point out team. The government most often retains the Taliban accountable.

Before this 7 days, a Taliban bombing targeted the acting defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. The attack in a heavily guarded upscale Kabul community late Tuesday killed at the very least 8 people today and wounded 20. The minister was unharmed. The bombing was adopted by a gunbattle that also killed 4 Taliban fighters. The militants stated the attack was to avenge Taliban fighters killed for the duration of authorities offensives in rural provinces.

In the meantime, Afghan and U.S. aircraft pounded Taliban positions in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Friday, as the insurgents closed a significant border crossing with neighboring Pakistan.

Residents in Helmand’s contested provincial money, Lashkar Gah, claimed airstrikes destroyed a sector in the center of the metropolis – an place controlled by the Taliban. Afghan officials say the Taliban now regulate nine out of the 10 districts of the city.

Afghanistan’s elite commandos have deployed to Lashkar Gah, backed up by airstrikes by the Afghan and U.S. air forces.

The Taliban commenced sweeping across Afghanistan at an unexpected speed just after the U.S. and NATO started their last pullout in late April. The bitter fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghans, now dwelling in depressing circumstances in improvised shelters and makeshift camps in the southern, desert-like atmosphere – brutally incredibly hot times and chilly evenings. Within the metropolitan areas where battling is underway, thousands are trapped and unable to shift from their houses.

In the southern city of Kandahar, the cash of the province with the exact title, hundreds are sheltering in makeshift camps, wondering exactly where they will get foods for their little ones. In Lashkar Gah, the shuttered place of work of Action Versus Starvation, a world-wide humanitarian corporation, was strike in an airstrike on Thursday, the team reported in a assertion. Fighting had pressured the organization to shut its business office very last week.

Additional than 50 % of Afghanistan’s 421 districts and district centers are now in Taliban palms. When quite a few of the districts are in remote locations, some are deeply strategic, giving the Taliban command of worthwhile border crossings with Iran, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Deborah Lyons, the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, stated on Friday that the human toll of the worsening preventing was deeply disturbing.

“The war in Afghanistan has entered a new, deadlier, and more destructive section,” she reported, talking to an emergency assembly of the U.N. Protection Council virtually from Kabul. “The provincial capitals of Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah in specific have come underneath important strain. This is a clear endeavor by the Taliban to seize city facilities with the pressure of arms.”

“The human toll of this technique is extremely distressing – and the political information is even more deeply disturbing,” she claimed, adding that in just 10 times in Lashkar Gah, 104 civilians had been killed. Lyons appealed on the council to mail a potent signal “that it is vital to quit combating and negotiate, in that get.”

“Otherwise, there may possibly be nothing at all remaining to earn,” she claimed.

In southeastern Afghanistan, the Taliban last thirty day period took regulate of the town of Spin Boldak on the border with Pakistan, one particular of Afghanistan’s busiest border crossings. 1000’s of Afghans and Pakistanis cross every day and a regular stream of vehicles passes via, bringing products to land-locked Afghanistan from the Arabian Sea port city of Karachi in Pakistan.

The Taliban shuttered the crossing Friday above a visa dispute, proclaiming Pakistan was abiding by Kabul government requirements for Afghans traveling into Pakistan to have a passport and a Pakistan visa. Previously, vacation paperwork had been rarely demanded and Afghans with nearby ID card could cross into Pakistan.

“The border will continue to be shut until eventually Pakistan makes it possible for all Afghans to cross on the bases of our previous procedure,” reported a Taliban statement.

At the border, traders explained about 1,500 individuals had been ready on each sides Friday to move by way of. Much more than 600 trucks, quite a few loaded with perishable new foods, have been backed up in both equally nations.

Islamabad’s partnership with Kabul has been deeply troubled with each sides accusing just about every other of harboring militants. Afghan Taliban leaders are living in Pakistan and Kabul is bitterly essential of Pakistan for aiding them and managing their fighters in hospitals in Pakistan. Islamabad meanwhile expenses that Kabul gives a protected haven to the Pakistani Taliban, a independent militant group that on a regular basis phases assaults in Pakistan.

Gannon claimed from Islamabad. Linked Press writer Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, contributed to this report.