Taliban militants storm Afghan provincial capital, clashes continue

Taliban militants storm Afghan provincial capital, clashes continue

Taliban militants and Afghan security forces fought running street battles after an overnight attack by extremists on the city of Farah in western Afghanistan.

Noorulhaq Khaliqi, a military spokesman in Farah, said Afghan security forces had repelled the attack but some residents said the Taliban had already set up checkpoints around the city and were checking identity cards and preventing people from fleeing. The Taliban urged the Afghan nation to boycott the elections and said that the country was "occupied" by foreign forces.

Mohammad Sarwar Osmani, a lawmaker form Farah province, also confirmed the Taliban attacks.

The residents have said that the Taliban took control of a part of the NDS building, a claim which was rejected by Danish. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

Help. Farah is a remote and sparsely populated province between Iran to the West and Helmand province, considered the "heart" of the Taliban.

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.

The targeting of Farah, coinciding with gains by the Taliban since the launch of a spring offensive less than three weeks ago, forced Afganistan's President, Ashraf Ghani, to call an urgent security meeting with senior defense officials on Tuesday.

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"The Taliban are moving very fast, if the government does not take serious and speedy action, the province is going to collapse to Taliban", said Hamidullah, a resident of the city reached by telephone.

Special police forces from Kandahar and commandos from Herat had also been deployed in Farah, Afghan officials said. Both the Taliban and Islamic State forces have staged shooting and suicide bombing attacks in Kabul and several other cities.

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

The Taliban was asking the city's residents to stay in their homes and promising they wouldn't be harmed.

The Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the project.

Farah Province has been a key battleground for the Taliban for months.

But it has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years.

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