HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) — Taliban fighters have overrun a second district in western Afghanistan, a district governor said Friday, warning the rebels could be planning to sweep into his own area.
The police and administration heads of the strategic Bakwa district in Farah province had fled after days of attacks by scores of rebels, the official said, after the militants late Monday took the adjacent Gulistan district.
Taliban insurgents have previously overrun several districts in remote parts of Afghanistan, including Bakwa, but are easily ejected by the international militaries here to aid the country's own weak security forces.
They have, however, held the district of Musa Qala, close to Gulistan, since February and the area is considered a Taliban base.
Bakwa police had made a "tactical withdrawal" to Delaram district after a new Taliban attack late Thursday, said Delaram governor Yahya Riadth.
"Taliban have control over Bakwa district now and the police and district governor have retreated to our district," he said.
Riadth warned his district, bordered by both Bakwa and Gulistan, could also be attacked.
"The government needs to reinforce our district urgently otherwise we have intelligence reports that the Taliban will attack us from both districts they have captured," he said.
Bakwa district governor Mawlawi Janan said the district administration centre was burnt down in Thursday's assault, which police said earlier was carried out by about 100 Taliban.
Officials had been forced to "temporarily" move elsewhere, he said, without confirming his whereabouts.
Farah police chief Abdul Rehman Sarjang said one policeman was killed and one wounded in the heavy fighting in Bakwa overnight. "An unknown number of Taliban were also killed and wounded," he said.
Bakwa police chief Mohammad Hashim said the withdrawal had been on the orders of authorities but was not significant. "We are ready to take back the district," he told AFP.
The main road to Iran, one of Afghanistan's most important trading partners, runs through the volatile district, which has seen a surge in Taliban-linked violence in the past few months.
NATO-led and Afghan security forces were preparing a fresh attempt to regain control of Gulistan, police said.
The Taliban were in government between 1996 and 2001, when they were driven from power for harbouring Al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks.
The hardliners have regrouped to wage an insurgency that is focused on southern and eastern Afghanistan but has gained footholds in other parts of the country, such as Bakwa.
The violence has claimed at least 5,000 lives this year, with most of the dead rebel fighters, according to a tally of tolls released by various officials.
In other attacks linked to the insurgency, a remotely detonated bomb blew up a police vehicle near the border with Pakistan, killing three policemen and wounding three more, Kunar province police chief Abdul Jalal Jalal told AFP.
Elsewhere in the same mountainous province, Taliban militants attacked a police post overnight and killed a policeman and wounded another, Jalal said.
A suicide attacker blew himself up in the eastern town of Sharan, wounding four civilians, most of them taxi drivers, Paktika province deputy police chief Farooq Sangari said.
"The suicide bomber has been torn into pieces and only his head is remaining," he said.
The target of the blast was unclear as there were no security convoys in the area. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the Taliban have carried out scores of such attacks this year.
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