Afghanistan: Conflicting reports emerge from Panjshir Valley
By Shafiq Ahmad
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA): The sky turned crimson with tracer bullets for almost two hours in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday evening.
Thousands of rounds of ammunition were sprayed in the air, instilling fear in the city, which fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15.
“This aerial firing is to celebrate Panjshir’s victory,” a Taliban commander said, requesting anonymity as was not allowed to speak to the media.
Soon reports on social media spread that the Taliban have taken control of Panjshir Valley, prompting some of the opposition group’s leaders to flee to Tajikistan.
However, in a video message posted online, Amrullah Saleh, the former first vice president of the Ashraf Ghani government, said he is in Panjshir and has not fled. He added that the two sides were still fighting.
According to a Taliban source, their forces entered Bazarak, Panjshir’s capital city, and raised the group flag.
The Taliban will announce the establishment of an “Islamic Emirate” now that the entire country is under their control, according to the source, citing the reason for the delay in the announcement of a new government in the war-torn country.
Only the Paryan district has fallen to the Taliban, said Fahim Fetrat, an Afghan journalist in Panjshir. They have not yet entered the capital city, he added.
The Panjshir resistance group, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of late mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and Bismillah Mohammadi, the Ghani government’s defense minister, are fighting the Taliban in the valley.
If the Taliban seize Panjshir, it will be the first time they will form a government across Afghanistan. They were unable to govern northern Afghan provinces including Faryab, Sar-e Pul, Jawzjan, Balkh, Samangan, and Kunduz during their first government from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban have taken over most of the 33 provincial capitals without bloodshed, but deadly confrontations have continued in Panjshir since the US left Afghanistan on Aug. 31, the only province still fighting them.
According to another source, the Taliban have taken control of Paryan, Shatal and Darband districts, but the province’s largest city remains under the authority of the resistance group.
He claimed that the intense clashes came to a halt and that the fight between the two sides resumed late in the evening. Heavy machineguns are used by both the Taliban and the Panjshir resistance group.
[Map of Afghanistan showing administrative divisions by Tubs/Creative Commons]
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