The Taliban has overrun a district in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province and reportedly captured dozens of government soldiers.
Sunday’s fighting comes as the United Nations warned attacks against aid workers in the country this year have increased by 20 percent, with 23 of them killed, 37 injured and 74 abducted.
Faryab Governor Naqibullah Fayiq told VOA the embattled Bilchiragh district had been under attack for several days and fell to insurgents Saturday because besieged Afghan security forces there could not receive timely reinforcements.
The governor would not discuss the fate of the government forces. Local media reported around 100 Afghan security personnel are missing.
A Taliban spokesman claimed its fighters entered the district without facing any resistance from government forces and causing any bloodshed.
He added Afghan security forces “welcomed and joined hands” with the insurgency.
It was not possible to verify insurgent claims from independent sources and Afghan military officials were not available to discuss the battlefield details.
The Taliban is said to be in control of three Faryab districts, while 11 other districts are also under pressure from the rebels.
Post-fighting Ghazni situation
Meanwhile, the embattled southeastern Ghazni city, with an estimated population of 270,000, began receiving relief supples Sunday, days after Afghan forces regained full control of the provincial capital from Taliban insurgents following several days of clashes.
The fighting caused massive damage to buildings and other infrastructure in Ghanzi, leading to critical food and water shortages.
The U.N. estimated the fighting for the control of the strategically important city killed around 200 civilians while Afghan officials and media said both government and the Taliban collectively lost some 400 combatants.
Violence against aid workers
A U.N. statement on World Humanitarian Day said fighting and conflict in Afghanistan continue to take a brutal toll on people and aid workers. In the first six months of this year 1,692 civilians were killed by conflict, the highest number in the past decade.
More than 130 schools were attacked and two health facilities were completely destroyed while incidents of violence against aid workers increased by 20 per cent, with 23 aid workers killed, 37 injured and 74 abducted, the statement noted.
Toby, Lanzer, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, renewed his call for all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligation under international humanitarian law and avoid targeting civilians and staff of relief groups in the country.
Last year, armed groups closed more than 140 health facilities, denying two million people access to health care.
“This worrisome trend continues in 2018: In July and August more than 300,000 people were temporarily deprived of access to health care in Zabul Province as a direct result of closure of health facilities,” lamented the U.N. agency.