The Taliban has captured Sheberghan metropolis in Jawzjan, the second Afghan provincial capital to fall to the armed group in lower than 24 hours.

The deputy governor of Sheberghan mentioned on Saturday that authorities forces and officers had retreated to the airport on the outskirts of the northern Afghan metropolis, the place they have been getting ready to defend themselves.

“Town has sadly fallen fully,” Qader Malia advised AFP information company. “The [government] forces and officers have retreated to the airport.”

Provincial councillor Bismillah Sahil mentioned the Taliban fighters had taken over key buildings such because the governor’s workplace, the police headquarters and the central jail within the metropolis.

Nevertheless, the pro-government forces have been nonetheless holding some areas inside the town such because the airport and a military brigade, in line with Mohammad Karim Jawzjani, a parliamentarian who represents Jawzjan.

Town is residence to infamous strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, who solely returned to Afghanistan this week after medical remedy in Turkey.

Dostum has overseen one of many largest militias within the north, which garnered a fearsome fame in its battle towards the Taliban within the Nineties – together with accusations that his forces massacred 1000’s of prisoners of warfare.

The Taliban has gained vast parts of rural Afghanistan since launching a sequence of offensives in Might to coincide with the beginning of the ultimate withdrawal of international troops.

A rout or retreat of Dostum’s fighters would dent the Kabul authorities’s current hopes that armed teams may assist bolster the nation’s overstretched navy.

On Friday, Zaranj metropolis in Nimroz fell to the Taliban “and not using a battle”, in line with its deputy governor, changing into the primary provincial capital to be taken by the armed group.

“The Taliban is saying they’ve management of all the principle authorities buildings, the governor’s compound, of the police and intelligence headquarters,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Social media posts recommended the Taliban was welcomed by some residents of the desert metropolis Sheberghan. They confirmed captured navy Humvees, luxurious SUVs and pickups rushing via the streets, flying white Taliban flags as residents – largely youths and younger males – cheered them on.

“The Afghan safety forces misplaced their morale as a result of intense propaganda by the Taliban,” a senior official from the town, who requested to not be named, advised AFP.

“Even earlier than the Taliban assaults … many of the safety forces put their weapons on the bottom, took off their uniforms, and left their items and fled.”

The Afghan authorities has made no official remark but on the autumn of both metropolis.

The seize of Sheberghan comes a day after the top of the Afghan authorities’s media data division was shot dead in Kabul in an assault claimed by the Taliban.

After a failed assassination try on the nation’s defence minister on Tuesday, the Taliban warned it was now focusing on senior administration officers in retaliation for elevated air strikes.

The Taliban already controls massive parts of the countryside and is now difficult authorities forces in different provincial capitals together with Herat, close to the western border with Iran, and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar within the south.

From Kunduz, activist Rasikh Maroof advised AFP by telephone on Saturday that preventing raged in a single day on the outskirts of a number of elements of the town, with the Taliban apparently unable to achieve important inroads.

Authorities forces have been “defending significantly”, he mentioned, utilizing air strikes towards Taliban mortars and heavy weapons.

The most recent takeover comes because the United Nations warned that the battle might be coming into a “deadlier and extra harmful section”.

“To assault city areas is to knowingly inflict huge hurt and trigger huge civilian casualties,” Deborah Lyons, the UN’s particular envoy to Afghanistan, advised the Safety Council on Friday.

“Nonetheless, the threatening of enormous city areas seems to be a strategic determination by the Taliban, who’ve accepted the doubtless carnage that may ensue.”

Afghanistan’s UN Ambassador Ghulam Isaczai urged the Safety Council to behave to “forestall a catastrophic state of affairs”.

“We’re alarmed by reviews and incidents of gross human rights violation by the Taliban and their international terrorist associates in virtually half of our nation and we’re extraordinarily involved concerning the security and safety of individuals in cities underneath Taliban assaults,” he mentioned.