A car bomb exploded near the home of Afghanistan’s acting defense minister in Kabul on Tuesday evening, hours after Afghan forces urged residents of another city to evacuate ahead of an operation against the Taliban.
According to Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman, the blast took place near the residence of Bismillah Mohammadi, where four attackers were also killed by Afghan security forces. Aman said the caretaker minister was not at home when the attack took place and his family was fine. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier on Tuesday, an Afghan army commander urged people in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, to Taliban was active in his field. Concerns over the civilian numbers of the terrorist group’s progress continue in some of the country’s largest cities.
Sami Sadat, who commands the 215 Maiwand Corps, said on Monday that the army would intensify fighting against the Taliban at Lashkar Gah, and warned locals that it was best to leave to carry out their mission effectively.
“We will not spare the Taliban alive at any cost,” Sadat said in a voice message to the media. “I request that if … you are displaced for a few days, please forgive us, as soon as you can leave the areas where the Taliban [are]”So the army can fight the group in those areas,” he said.
There is increasing evidence that civilians are being killed and injured in the ongoing clashes at Lashkar Gah.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted on Tuesday that there is “deep concern for Afghan civilians” over the escalation of fighting.
UNAMA said on Tuesday that at least 40 civilians have been killed and 118 civilians injured in Lashkar Garh within the last 24 hours. [an] End fighting in urban areas immediately.”
Human Rights Watch echoed the UN’s concerns on Tuesday, saying “indiscriminate attacks, including mortars, rockets, airstrikes, other explosive weapons and bullets, are causing catastrophic injuries and deaths at Lashkar Gah.”
Images and video from the city showed university buildings on fire on Tuesday. The Taliban claimed that Bose University was affected by the airstrike; There has been no word from the government.
Two police districts and a state TV station in Lashkar Gah are now under Taliban control. The city sits on strategic routes in all directions, including the highway between Kandahar and Herat and important agricultural areas to the south of the city. While the Taliban has long had a strong presence in Helmand province, including the areas around Lashkar Gah, it has not captured any part of the city since they were overthrown in 2001.
A local Lashkar Gah journalist told CNN on Tuesday that fighting continued in the two districts and that he had reached close to the city jail before pushing back the Taliban. The journalist reported on Tuesday morning the new airstrikes against the Taliban.
A senior Afghan security official told CNN that while fighting has led to the release of fifty high-value prisoners, efforts are on to relocate another 85.
“Helmand could collapse,” said the official, in a rare acknowledgment by officials of how deeply troubled the southern province is in the face of Taliban onslaught.
Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images
An Afghan National Army officer stands guard over a vehicle on the side of the road in Engel district of Herat province on August 1, 2021.
In recent times, United States of america The provincial capital cities of Herat and Kandahar as well as Lashkar Gah have intensified airstrikes on Taliban positions in an effort to halt the progress of militants.
A US defense official made a dire assessment of the worsening situation, telling CNN on Monday: “It’s not going well.”
Fighting continues in Herat province, where the Taliban now controls 13 of the 16 districts, according to the Long War Journal, a US non-profit that controls territory in Afghanistan. Its maximum increase occurred in the month of July.
On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said in a tweet that 41 Taliban had been killed in a “joint clearing operation” on the outskirts of Herat, adding that “vast areas” of the city had been cleared of “Taliban terrorists”. Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman claimed that several areas of Herat had fallen into the group and that “the Afghan army and Ismail Khan’s militias are fleeing and fleeing the area.”
The claims of either party cannot be independently verified. Residents of the city of Herat, whom CNN spoke to on Tuesday, were largely exhausted by the chaos.
Ismail Rasuli, 40, a shopkeeper, said there was no security in the province and it was impossible to sleep at night because of the clashes. Rasuli said the Taliban were “very close”, but he was not afraid of the group overtaking the city.
“What is important to us is security, (for us there is no difference) if the Afghan government or the Taliban rule,” he said, adding: “We are fed up with the corruption inside the government system, we hope. We want a better government.
Another Herat resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, told CNN that the Taliban had taken over the outskirts of the city, so he had moved his family to another province.
He said on Monday night people started shouting “Allahu Akbar” in support of Afghan security forces.
He said residents were divided into two categories: those working with government and non-governmental organizations, those who fear the Taliban, and those who are self-employed, those who are not.
Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said on Tuesday that more than 3,000 people have been killed across the country in recent Taliban attacks and more than 300,000 have been displaced in the past few months.
vast majority of Taliban’s regional gains President Biden’s announcement that all US combat forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of August comes since the United States began a withdrawal of forces in May.
The Pentagon has said that nearly 95% of US troops have already left, with the Taliban rapidly expanding their presence in large areas of the country.
The speed at which Afghan security forces have lost control of the Taliban has shocked many and raised concerns that the capital, Kabul, could collapse.
CNN’s Barbara Starr and Kara Fox contributed to this report.