Thursday, November 1, 2007

Taliban take district outside Kandahar City

Last week, Taliban fighters entered Arghandab district, north of Kandahar City (see this photo of the Arghandab River). New York Times:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Oct. 30 — Several hundred Taliban fighters have moved into a strategic area just outside the southern city of Kandahar in recent days and clashed with Afghan and NATO forces, according to Canadian and Afghan officials.

The fighting, which began Tuesday, is the first time large numbers of Taliban have been able to enter the area just north of the city since 2001. Control of the area, known as the Arghandab district, would allow the Taliban to directly threaten Kandahar, southern Afghanistan’s largest city...

Residents said hundreds of people were fleeing the district because of fears of a major battle. Cars and trucks loaded with families from the area have streamed into Kandahar over the last two days, sparking fear among city residents.

“The people are leaving the village because they are afraid of fighting and bombardment,” said Agha Muhammad, a 43-year-old farmer who fled Arghandab on Tuesday. “Today, many families have left their houses.”

Sarah Chayes, an American journalist and aid worker who has lived in Kandahar since 2001, said a powerful pro-government leader in the district, Mullah Naqibullah, died of a heart attack two weeks ago. ...

But in a sign of the weakness of President Hamid Karzai’s government in the area, joyous Taliban fighters seized control of Mullah Naqibullah’s home village in Arghandab within two weeks of his death.

... “It’s like a psychological operation on the part of the Taliban, and I think it’s a very effective one.” (link)
Later, it was reported that NATO forces have some 250 Taliban surrounded and also claimed to have killed 50 fighters.

Herat and Ghazni too
Meanwhile in Farah province, a similar situation is reported: 50 Taliban killed and 400 remaining against Afghan and foreign troops.

Finally, in Ghazni province, US-led forces report 30 dead Taliban. (link)

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