Taliban, opposition battle for Panjshir Valley, Pakistan spy chief flies to Kabul

Kabul: Taliban and opposition forces were fighting on Saturday for control of the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, the last province in Afgha...


Kabul: Taliban and opposition forces were fighting on Saturday for control of the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, the last province in Afghanistan holding out against the Islamist group, according to reports.

Taliban sources said on Friday its fighters had taken the valley, although the resistance denied it had fallen.

The Taliban have so far issued no public declaration that they had taken the valley, which resisted their rule when they were last in power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001.

The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which groups opposition forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said Taliban forces reached the Darband heights on the border between Kapisa province and Panjshir but were pushed b-ac-k.

"The defence of the stronghold of Afghanistan is unbreakable," Front spokesman Fahim Dashty said in a tweet.

A Taliban source said fighting was continuing in Panjshir but the advance was slowed by landmines placed on the road to the capital Bazarak and the provincial governor's compound.

"Demining and offensives are both going on at the same time," the source said.

It was not immediately possible to get independent confirmation of events in Panjshir, which is walled off by mountains except for a narrow entrance and had held out against Soviet occupation as well as the previous Taliban government.

Celebratory gunfire resounded in Kabul on Friday as reports spread of the Taliban's takeover of Panjshir, and news agencies said at least 17 people were killed and 41 hurt in the firing.

Pakistan's spy chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed flew into Kabul on Saturday, sources in both capitals said. It was not clear what his agenda was, but a senior official in Pakistan had said earlier in the week that Hameed, who heads the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, could help the Taliban reorganise the Afghan military.

Washington has accused Pakistan and the ISI of backing the Taliban in the group's two-decade fight against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, although Islamabad has denied the charges. After the Islamist group seized Kabul this month, analysts have said Pakistan's role in Afghanistan will be much enhanced.

The Pakistani government has said that its influence over the movement has waned, particularly since the Taliban grew in confidence once Washington announced the date for the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops.

-News Feed

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Local Glob: Taliban, opposition battle for Panjshir Valley, Pakistan spy chief flies to Kabul
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