Taliban Takes Control of District In Northeast Afghanistan Following Deadly Clashes

Taliban militants have taken control of the Arghanj Khaw district center in Afghanistan's northeastern province of Badakhshan after two days of intense fighting, officials say.

At least 12 members of the security forces were killed and another five were wounded in the fighting, local officials said on March 30.

The spokesman of the local governor told RFE/RL that the fighting continued in the Arghan Khaw district.

"We're committed to take it back, local forces need more support from the central government," spokesman Nek Mohammad Nazari said.

He said an unknown number of Taliban fighters were killed in the clashes.

Abdollah Naji Nazari, a member of Badakhshan's provincial council, told RFE/RL that Taliban control over Arghanj Khaw had led to concern that the militant group could attack Badakhshan's capital, Faiz Abad.

Over the past three years, the militants have also taken control of Badakhshan's Warduj and Yumgan districts.

Meanwhile, at least eight Afghan police were killed in a Taliban attack in the southern Zabul Province, provincial council chief Ata Jan Haq Bayan said.

The Taliban continues to stage daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite being engaged in talks with the United States aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.

The government in Kabul has been absent from the negotiations, with the Taliban insisting it will not engage with a Western "puppet."

Last week, Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid warned that the Taliban would wage an intense fight in the coming year and told Afghan forces to be ready.

With reporting by dpa and AFP