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Taliban overrun Yamgan district

AT-KABUL: Hundreds of Afghan and foreign Taliban fighters overwhelmed a remote district Saturday in northeastern Afghanistan in an area where the government’s influence has waned over the past two years, provincial officials said.

Afghan security forces and the Taliban are locked in a battle for control over a remote district in northeastern Afghanistan, officials said, a day after hundreds of Taliban fighters wrested control of the district. Reinforcement including Special Forces were already sent to the area, who were waiting order to start counter offensives against militants, provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib said.

Reuters reported that up to 20 security forces had been killed in the attack and that they were waiting for reinforcements.

Abdullah Naji Nazari, the head of the provincial council, on Saturday said the centre of Yamgan had been captured by the Taliban. “The situation is tense and worrying if reinforcements are not sent in time,” he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said fighters had taken control of several checkpoints and the district centre, killing several members of Afghan forces and seizing weapons.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, said the country’s north has become a new fighting front for the Taliban over the past two months, as part of its annual Spring offensive.

“That area in the north is more exposed. There are not as many security forces up there,” she said.

In early May, at least 18 Afghan policemen were killed in a series of Taliban attacks in Badakhshan province.

A surge in attacks has taken a heavy toll on civilians, according to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.

In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties jumped 16 percent from the same period last year, it said.

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