The Taliban on Monday captured a strategic district in Afghanistan’s northern province of Baghlan following a week of intense fighting.
The group launched a coordinated attack on Dahana-e-Ghori district four days ago and took control of it later on Sunday following a tactical retreat" from Afghan forces, Amir Gul Hussainkhil, deputy police chief of Baghlan said.
"Afghan forces fought for days but no help arrived and they had to retreat and the Taliban captured the district," Hussainkhil said adding that five police officers were killed during the conflict.
The siege of this district brings the militants closer to the provincial capital of Pol-e-Khomri which has been threatened by the group for months.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid announced the capture by sending an email statement to media.
"Many Afghan and militia forces have been killed and 33 soldiers are captured," Mujahid's statement read.
Baghlan is a strategically important area as the country's major highways pass through it and also serves as the location for a major power grid that supplies electricity to Kabul and other regions.
Baghlan is on the border of Kunduz province which the Taliban seized last year for the first time since they were ousted by a US-led operation in 2001.
An ongoing political crisis in the country helped the Taliban to gain more ground.
Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of the national unity government, recently accused President Ashraf Ghani for failing to work collaboratively and deemed him undeserving to serve the government.
In the southern province of Helmand, there has been fighting in four districts as Afghan forces are struggling to hold off insurgents advancing on the provincial capital, government officials said.
In Nuristan province in the east, dozens of Taliban attacked Want Waygal district as Afghan forces killed 40 militants during days of fighting, according to officials.