Surge in Taliban attacks across Afghanistan as tribal leaders mobilize to fight

Suspected Taliban militants have fired a rocket at a hospital in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar, as heavy fighting continues between government forces and militants across the war-torn country.

Kunar health official Aziz Safai said the rocket attack, which took place on Wednesday, sparked a blaze that resulted in extensive damage and the loss of crucial supplies.

“Different types of vaccine, including doses meant to fight polio and COVID-19, were destroyed in the fire,” he said.

But he said there had been no reports of casualties.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility for the attack.

The coronavirus has been spreading in Afghanistan, with the country reporting 4,366 COVID-19 deaths and 107,957 cases as of Wednesday. Many health officials say the real number of infections is likely much higher as many cases go undetected because of insufficient testing.

Earlier, the Taliban militant group took control of Afghanistan’s main border crossing with neighboring Tajikistan, amid a surge in fighting between government forces and the militants in the northern parts of the country.

Since early May, the Taliban militant group has been launching major offensives against Afghan government forces and civilians across the country, and claims to have seized at least 87 of the country’s 421 districts.

On Monday, Afghan government forces retook the two districts of Bangi and Khwaja Ghar in the northern Takhar Province from Taliban militants.

The militant group’s advances come as US and other NATO troops prepare to leave Afghanistan after two decades of war and occupation.

Five civilians killed, 20 wounded in Kandahar blast

Separately on Tuesday night, a roadside bomb in the southern province of Kandahar left at least five civilians dead and 20 more injured.

The provincial police said on Wednesday that the blast had taken place on the Kabul-Kandahar highway in the province’s Maiwand district after a passenger vehicle was hit by a roadside mine.

Health officials confirmed the casualties. The wounded included women and children.

No group immediately took responsibility for the blast.

Maiwand fell to the Taliban following clashes on Monday.

Separately, Waheed Omer, presidential adviser and director general of the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs, has denounced the Taliban’s recent “subversive” activities, saying the militant group has proven that it has not changed at all.

Omer made the remarks on Tuesday following repeated attacks by the Taliban in various parts of the country, particularly in the north, saying recent attacks by the militant group had destroyed hopes for peace in Afghanistan.

“Talib is the one who kills journalists, religious scholars. Talib is the one who goes everywhere and destroys bridges, schools, and clinics,” Omer said.

Hundreds of tribal elders and locals have taken up arms, forming various groups in different provinces to fight alongside security forces on the frontlines against the Taliban. This is the first time that the public has shown a willingness to fight against the Taliban in such large numbers since the militant group increased its attacks.

Afghanistan’s newly-appointed Acting Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi has already called on people to stand with security forces and pledged that the government will provide facilities and equipment.

Afghanistan is also facing a wave of assassinations, many of which are targeting government employees, health workers, and media and civil society activists.



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