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Taliban overruns another 2 districts in Afghan north

As fighting in the city of Kunduz continues, the Taliban seized two more districts in the Afghan north.`The district of Wardoj, which has switched hands in the past, and Baharak were overrun during Taliban assaults over the past two days, the jihadist group and Afghan officials reported.

The Taliban said it "launched coordinated attacks on enemy positions" in the district yesterday morning, which culminated in the capture of the district center, the administration center, and dozens of bases and outposts. The claim was published on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban's official website.

The Taliban claimed it killed 50 Afghan security personnel while losing three of its own fighters, and captured "2 APCs [armored personnel carriers, likely Humvees], 2 pickup trucks, a ZPU-1 gun, 3 Dshk heavy machine guns, 2 mortar tubes and a sizable amount of other arms and ammunition." The Taliban routinely inflate the number of Afghan personnel killed during an engagement.

Dawlat Mohammad Khawar, the district governor for Wardoj, "confirmed that the Afghan security forces have retreated from Wardoj following hours of gun battle with the Taliban militants," Khaama Press reported.

Additionally, the Taliban overran the Baharak district in Badakhsan. "On Friday Mujahideen stormed the district and after intense fighting with the enemy and soon seized control of the district as well as overrunning a number of the checkpoints based near the district headquarters for the security arrangements," the Taliban stated on Voice of Jihad.

Badakhshan has become increasingly unstable over the past several years. Both the Taliban and the allied Islamic Jihad Union have been active in Badakhshan. The district of Yamgan is said to be under Taliban control since late June 2015, while the districts of Argo, Jurm, and Kishim are considered to be contested.

Wardoj and Baharak are the latest districts to fall to the Taliban since the provincial capital of Kunduz was overrun on Sept. 28. The Taliban has seized 10 districts in five provinces (Wardoj and Baharak in Badakhshan; Khak-e-Safid in Farah; Khwaja Ghar, Yangi Qala, Ishkamish, and Bangi districts in Takhar; Khanabad and Qala-i-Zal in Kunduz; and Talaw Barfak in Baghlan), as well as the provincial capital of Kunduz in the span of span of five days.

[Source: By Bill Roggio, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, NJ, 02Oct15]

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