Residents had been urged Tuesday to evacuate a besieged Afghan metropolis, as the military ready a serious offensive towards the Taliban after three days of heavy preventing.
An enormous blast in the meantime rocked the capital Kabul on Tuesday night, sending a thick plume of smoke into the sky, AFP correspondents reported, including the explosion was adopted by gunfire.
A safety official mentioned the explosion occurred close to Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi’s residence in central Kabul. No different particulars had been instantly obtainable.
“The minister was with me in a prayer ceremony. He’s advantageous,” Younus Qanooni, an in depth aide to the defence minister, informed reporters.
The Taliban have seized management of a lot of rural Afghanistan since international forces started the final stage of their withdrawal in Might, however at the moment are targeted on capturing provincial capitals, the place they’re assembly stiffer resistance.
Preventing is raging for Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province, with the United Nations saying at the very least 40 civilians had been killed within the final 24 hours.
Normal Sami Sadat, commander of the 215 Maiwand Afghan Military Corps, informed residents to get out as quickly as they might.
“Please go away as quickly as attainable in order that we are able to begin our operation,” he mentioned in a message to the town of 200,000 delivered through the media.
“I do know it is vitally troublesome so that you can go away your homes — it’s exhausting for us too — however if you’re displaced for a couple of days, please forgive us.
“We’re preventing the Taliban wherever they’re. We’ll struggle them… we won’t go away a single Taliban alive,” he mentioned.
Officers mentioned earlier that group had seized greater than a dozen native radio and TV stations in Lashkar Gah, leaving just one pro-Taliban channel broadcasting Islamic programming.
“Deepening concern for Afghan civilians… as preventing worsens,” the UN Help Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted.
“UN urges fast finish to preventing in city areas.”
‘Taliban are in all places’
“Preventing was intense this morning,” mentioned Sefatullah, director of Sukon radio within the metropolis.
He mentioned US and Afghan air pressure planes had pounded Taliban positions, and that preventing was ongoing close to the town’s jail and a compound housing the headquarters of police and intelligence businesses.
In latest days, the US army has intensified air strikes throughout the nation in a bid to stem Taliban advances.
“The Taliban are in all places within the metropolis, you possibly can see them on bikes within the streets. They’re arresting or taking pictures individuals who have smartphones,” a resident of Lashkar Gah informed AFP, on situation of anonymity.
“The Taliban are within the folks’s homes and the federal government is bombing them. About 20 homes in my neighbourhood have been bombed, they’re preventing street-to-street battles,” he mentioned.
The lack of Lashkar Gah can be a large strategic and psychological blow for the federal government, which has pledged to defend cities in any respect prices after dropping a lot of the agricultural countryside to the Taliban over the summer season.
Within the western metropolis of Herat that can be beneath siege, lots of of residents chanted “Allah-u Akbar” (God is best) from their rooftops Monday night time after authorities forces countered the most recent Taliban assault.
Officers mentioned authorities forces had managed to push again the Taliban from a number of elements of Herat — together with close to the airport, which is significant for provides.
However on Tuesday afternoon, 4 rockets struck the airport. The ability was not broken, airport chief Shaheer Salehi informed AFP, however two flights had been cancelled.