The Taliban have seized the strategically important city of Ghazni, the tenth capital city to fall to the military in less than a week. The capture of Ghazni is thought to increase the chances of the Taliban eventually taking over the capital Kabul.
- There are also reports that the cities of Herat and Kandahar could soon collapse, amid heavy fighting.
- About a third of the major capitals of Afghanistan are now under the control of the Taliban.
The rebels moved swiftly, taking new positions almost daily, as the US and other foreign troops withdrew after 20 years of military service.
- Ghazni is located on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, which links military bases south of Kabul.
city’s provincial council
A member of the city’s provincial council told the BBC that the Taliban had taken over a large area, with only a police station headed by Afghan security forces.
In Kandahar, fierce fighting was reported and the Taliban claimed to have taken their prison and released all prisoners, although this has not yet been confirmed.
The detainees were also released from the southern city of Lashkar Gah, where reports have reportedly taken over the military headquarters.
Herat regional council
Meanwhile a member of the Herat regional council has told the BBC that the city is in danger of collapsing, and that the Taliban now control much of the city. Video on social media shows rebels running in the middle of the street shooting their weapons.
U.S. ambassador to Kabul
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul said he had heard reports that the Taliban were killing Afghan soldiers who volunteered, saying it was “extremely worrying and could lead to military crime.”
- More than 1,000 people were killed in Afghanistan last month, according to the UN.
- This week, thousands of people from the northern provinces have turned to shelter inside, traveling to Kabul in search of safety.
Machine-making camps have been set up on the archipelago on the outskirts of the capital, and many others are reportedly sleeping on the streets or in dumps.
We have no money to buy bread, or to buy medicine for my child, “said a 35-year-old street vendor who fled Kunduz province after the Taliban set his house on fire, he told the BBC.
Responding to the protest, the German government has threatened to Ghazni falls end its $ 500m (£ 360m) annual financial support in Afghanistan if the Taliban gain full control of the country.
Germany has also suspended the repatriation of Afghan citizens who have applied for asylum. The French government claims to follow the same policy.
- On Wednesday, Afghanistan replaced its military commander, General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, who had been in office since June.
And on Wednesday, President Ashraf Ghani flew to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif – traditionally an anti-Taliban base – to try to rally support for government forces there.
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
Mazar-i-Sharif is close to the borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and its loss will signal a complete collapse of government in northern Afghanistan.
President Ghani held talks on Mazar-i-Sharif with Uzbek military commander Abdul Rashid Dostum and prominent Tajik national leader Atta Mohammad Noor on defense of the city.
- Mr Dostum, a veteran commander, was quoted as saying: “The Taliban have come to the north many times but they are still trapped.”
For years, Mr Ghani had tried to Ghazni falls oust the military authorities in an effort to expand the Afghan National Army, and now he is returning to them in his time of need, said the BBC’s Ethirajan Anbarasan. Earlier this week, the president also agreed to arm government troops.