Taliban militants have seized a strategic town in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunduz, demonstrating the group’s increasing power, Afghan security forces said.
A group of Taliban militants seized the Chardara district on Saturday after two days of fighting with local militias, Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the Kunduz provincial council said.
Chardara lies to the east of Kunduz City, the provincial capital, forming a natural buffer zone between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants.
The streets of Kunduz City were deserted, with local administration buildings closed, residents said.
Kunduz province faces a humanitarian crisis as thousands of families are trapped in violence.
The fall of Chardara came a day after Afghan forces retook the district of Yamgan that was controlled by the Taliban since June 6. Two-week battle killed at least 120 local Taliban militants, Afghan Interior Ministry said.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of its “war on terror”. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues across the country.
American-led NATO troops withdrew from volatile areas of Afghanistan last year, officially concluding the combat mission after 13 years.
The Afghan war claimed 92,000 lives from 2001 to 2014 and wounded around 100,000 people, according to a report from Brown University.