Taliban seize second provincial capital, Afghans worried

After the fall of another provincial capital the day before, the city of Sheberghan is now in the hands of the Taliban. A new setback for the Afghan government.

The Taliban seized the city ​​of Sheberghan (north), the second provincial capital to fall into the hands of the insurgents in less than twenty-four hours and since the start of the final withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in May.

“Forces and those responsible fled to the airport, ” Qader Malia, vice-governor of Jawzjan province, of which Sheberghan is the capital, told AFP. The Taliban had already taken control on Friday of a first provincial capital , Zaranj (south), without real resistance of the Afghan forces.

Jawzjan province is the stronghold of Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostom, a powerful leader of the Uzbek militia, renowned for his changing loyalty and barbarism. If its stronghold of Sheberghan were to remain in Taliban hands, it would be another setback for the government, which recently called on former warlords to try to stem the advance of the insurgents.

“Gunshots and explosions” 20210806 According to a journalist from Sheberghan, who requested anonymity, the fighting started around 4 a.m. with “gunshots and explosions” , before the withdrawal of pro-government forces around noon. “Now the Taliban are everywhere, with their flags […] the streets are deserted and we dare not leave our houses ”, he told AFP.

An adviser to Marshal Dostom confirmed the fall of Sheberghan. “The security forces and officials withdrew to an area approximately km from town. They had already prepared, in particular by transferring enough ammunition there to defend themselves against an attack by the Taliban ”, , he specified. Militiamen would however continue to fight the Taliban on the outskirts of the city. cities, encircling several provincial capitals, including Kandahar (south) and Herat (west), the country’s second and third largest cities. In Kabul, residents fear the same fate.

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