Taliban now control half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals

The Taliban now control half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals after they seized the city.

The Taliban have seized Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, and a number of other provincial capitals, as the insurgent group accelerates its rapid advance towards the capital Kabul.

Afghan Member of Parliament Gul Ahmad Kamin said that Kandahar had been taken. The city, which lies in the south of the country, has been besieged by the Taliban for weeks, and many observers consider its fall as the beginning of the end for the country’s US-backed government.

The group has made territorial gains in the north of the country, which has traditionally been an anti-Taliban stronghold. And it now controls towns and territories within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of Kabul, including the capital of Logar province, which also fell on Friday.

Later on Friday the militants took charge of a handful of other cities.

According to reporters they now control 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, all of which have been captured in the last week.

In a statement Friday, the Taliban said they had taken control of the governor’s office, police headquarters, as well as other key operational centers throughout the city of Kandahar. “Hundreds of weapons, vehicles and ammunition were seized,” the Taliban statement said.

Kamin said he and many others had made their way to a military base close to the city’s international airport and were awaiting a flight out. “Many (government) soldiers surrendered and the rest fled,” Kamin said.

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