Afghanistan: violent fighting between Taliban and loyalists, in the south, strong explosion in Kabul

According to a local channel, the car bomb attack in the capital targeted the Minister of Defense. And near Lashkar Gah, the UN talks about 40 civilians who died in 20 hours.

The Afghan army called this Tuesday residents to evacuate the southern town of Lashkar Gah, where particularly deadly fighting killed 24 civilians in 24 hours, according to the UN, and which the Afghan forces now intend to dislodge “harshly” the Taliban. At the same time, a strong explosion rocked Kabul on Tuesday evening. The explosion was heard by AFP journalists from several areas of the capital. Sporadic fire from automatic weapons was also audible after the explosion. According to the Afghan media Tolo News , it would be a car bomb in the neighborhood of Sherpour who aimed at 000 local time at the residence of the Acting Minister of Defense, Bismillah Mohammadi, who was not not there when the explosion happened. Nobody would have been injured in the attack, continues Tolo News.

But it is the whole country that seems a little more bogged down in the civil war. “We ask you to leave your homes as soon as possible. We will face ” the Taliban and ” fight them hard “, launched to the residents of Lashkar Gah General Sami Sadat, the highest ranking army officer in southern Afghanistan, in an audio message he asked the media to broadcast. “We will not leave a single Taliban alive. Leave as soon as possible so that we can start our operation, ” he added.

Earlier Tuesday , the UN Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) expressed in a tweet “its deep concern for Afghan civilians in Lashkar Gah, where the fighting is escalating”, calling for “the immediate cessation of fighting in urban areas”. She indicated that civilians were particularly victims of the Taliban ground offensive and Afghan army bombardments, specifying that 40 of them had been killed and 118 wounded the latter 24 hours during the fighting in Lashkar Gah, town of 200 000 inhabitants.

“The Taliban are everywhere in city ​​” The belligerents “ must do more to protect civilians or the consequences will be catastrophic “, estimated Unama. A resident of Lashkar Gah who requested anonymity described a town where “there is no more electricity, no more food, [où] shops are closed” , where the belligerents clash “street by street” and that the Afghan Air Force “bombs almost every minute”. “This is the fourth day of intense fighting inside the city. Some residents have already left the city but a lot of people are still stuck ”, he said.

“The Taliban are everywhere in the city”, and circulate on motorcycles, added this resident, affirming that the Afghan forces are bombing the private houses in which they are sheltering : “About twenty houses in our neighborhood were bombed.” “Hospitals are overwhelmed even though most people do not dare to take their loved ones there in a private vehicle, for fear of being killed by the Taliban or bombed by the government”, he explained.

“Eleven radios and four television channels cut” Sefatullah, owner of the local Sukon radio station, said his station had stopped broadcasting on Sunday “because the Taliban seized the building ”. “Since Sunday, ten radio stations and three television channels have stopped broadcasting, either because the Taliban took their premises or because they told them to stop. Only a Taliban-friendly radio station is still broadcasting in the city, ” he added.

The Afghan ministry of Information and Culture for its part indicated that “eleven radio stations and four television channels were cut off due to attacks or threats from the Taliban in Helmand province”, of which Lashkar Gah is the capital.

“Attacks and threats the Taliban against the media show their hostility to freedom of expression, ” continued the ministry. The Taliban have been waging an all-out offensive for three months in which they seized vast rural areas. The Afghan forces, which until then have offered little resistance, now essentially control only the provincial capitals.

The insurgents have recently tightened their noose on three of them: Lashkar Gah, but also Kandahar and Herat, the second and third largest cities in the country. The authorities of the province of Herat (west) said on Tuesday that the Afghan forces had recaptured several areas of the suburbs of the provincial capital from the Taliban, who in recent days reached a few kilometers from this city of 600 000 inhabitants.

“An important operation” carried out with a local militia in the west of the city allowed them to resume “several areas”, especially in the district of Injil which surrounds Herat, Jailani Farhad, spokesperson for the governor, told AFP on Tuesday provincial. They also regained control of the road leading to the airport, located about fifteen kilometers south of the city, by destroying a checkpoint that the insurgents had installed there, even if some are still present in the immediate vicinity, he clarified.