The Taliban continued to advance across northern Afghanistan Monday, taking at least two provincial capitals, multiple provincial officials told the Associated Press.
Sar-e Pul and Aybakis are the two latest northern provincial capitals to fall to the Taliban as the last of the American and NATO troops leave the country, according to local officials, the AP reported.
Sar-e Pul in the northern Sar-e Pul province was captured Sunday following a week of struggle between the Taliban and Afghan Security Forces that have now entirely withdrawn from the province, along with the surrender of local pro-government militia commanders that allowed them to take complete control of the province, according to the Council Chief Mohammad Noor Rahmani, the AP reported.
Aybakis the capital of the northern Samangan province was taken by the Taliban on Monday afternoon, according to two lawmakers, Hayatullah Samangani and Mahboba Rahmat, the AP reported. They said Aybakis was taken without resistance and that government officials had escaped to another district.
The Taliban refuses to consider peace negotiations with the Afghan government and instead has been attacking and killing senior government officials in Kabul, the AP reported. The UN has warned that a Taliban takeover would not be recognized amid international denunciation of the territorial expansion.
The city of Sar-e Pul joins other provincial capitals under Taliban control, such as Zaranj in the western Nimroz province, Shibirghan in the northern Zawzjan province and Taleqan of the northern Taleqan province, the AP reported. The city of Kunduz, has also been taken by the Taliban as of Sunday, according to The New York Times.
Rahmani said the Sar-e Pul capital has been under attacks from Taliban insurgents for weeks with no reinforcements for Afghan and local provincial forces, the AP reported.
The Taliban said residents, government employees and security officials didn’t need to fear them in an English statement issued Monday, the AP reported.
UNICEF responded to the attacks Monday and condemned the killing of children, which make up at least 27 casualties in the past three days, the AP reported. The organization brought attention to what it said was a spike in the recruitment of children by armed groups.
“These atrocities are also evidence of the brutal nature and scale of violence in Afghanistan which preys on already vulnerable children,” the agency said, the AP reported. Attacks against women have also been reported.
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