The Taliban militants overran Taloqan, the capital of the northern Takhar province, capturing the final areas it hadn't previously controlled after a months-long siege.
Taliban fighters have taken control of another provincial capital, Afghan officials said, the fifth to fall into insurgent hands in less than a week.
The armed group fighters overran Taloqan, the capital of the northern Takhar province on Sunday, capturing the final areas it hadn't previously controlled after a months long siege, the two officials from the province said.
The fighters have taken dozens of districts and border crossings in recent months and put pressure on several provincial capitals, including Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south, as foreign troops withdraw.
Afghan government is struggling to send reinforcements and air power to cities being run over by Taliban, journalist Bilal Sarwary reports from Kabul pic.twitter.com/aZM3UrmiUm— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) August 8, 2021
Taliban momentum rising
The offensive has gathered momentum in recent days after the United States announced it would end its military mission in the country by the end of August.
Also on Sunday, Taliban fighters seized key government buildings in Kunduz, leaving government forces hanging onto control of the airport and their base, a provincial assembly member said.
The city of 270,000, is regarded as a strategic prize as it lies at the gateway to mineral-rich northern provinces and Central Asia.
"Heavy clashes started yesterday afternoon. All government headquarters are in control of the Taliban, only the army base and the airport is with ANDSF (Afghan security forces) from where they are resisting the Taliban," the official, Amruddin Wali, said.
A security forces spokesman said on Sunday evening that government forces would launch a large scale operation to retake lost areas of the province as soon as possible.
In the past 24 hours, 20 Taliban terrorists killed during a joint clearance operation carried out by GCPSU and Afghan Commandos in Kandahar City of Kandahar province. pic.twitter.com/sY7Qt0PRky— Ministry of Interior Affairs- Afghanistan (@moiafghanistan) August 8, 2021
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group had largely captured the province and were close to the airport.
Health officials in Kunduz said that 14 bodies, including those of women and children, and more than 30 injured people had been taken to hospital.
The Taliban have also taken government buildings in the northern provincial capital of Sar-e-Pul, driving officials out of the main city to a nearby military base, Mohammad Noor Rahmani, a provincial council member of Sar-e-Pul province, said.