The Taliban are due to form a government within days despite fighting in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley where forces battling the hardline Islamists say they are enduring ‘heavy’ assaults.
Afghanistan Crisis Latest Updates: The Taliban are due to form a government within days despite fighting in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley where forces battling the hardline Islamists say they are enduring “heavy” assaults.
The Islamists face the enormous challenge of shifting gears from insurgent group to governing power, days after the United States fully withdrew its troops and ended two decades of war.
But they are still battling to extinguish the last flame of resistance in the Panjshir Valley, which held out for a decade against the Soviet Union’s occupation and also the Taliban’s first rule from 1996-2001.
Late Friday, celebratory gunfire rang out across Kabul as rumours spread the valley had fallen, but the Taliban made no official claim and a resident told AFP by phone the reports were false.
Fighters from the National Resistance Front — made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces — are understood to have significant weapon stockpiles in the valley, which lies around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kabul.
Earlier Friday, Ali Maisam Nazary, a spokesman for the Panjshir resistance, who is understood to be outside the valley but in close contact with key leader Ahmad Massoud, said the fighting was “heavy” and that Massoud was “busy defending the valley”.
Pro-Taliban Twitter accounts aired video clips purporting to show the new regime’s fighters had captured tanks and other heavy military equipment inside the valley.
Taliban and resistance tweets suggested the key district of Paryan had been taken and lost again, but that could also not be independently verified.
With inputs from agencies