KABUL: The defense ministry says that army forces launched a counter attack to drive Taliban back from Zaranj city, provincial capital for Nimroz, killing a great number of Taliban fighters and their al-Qaeda allies.
Taliban captured Zaranj city on Friday, the first provincial capital completely falling to the insurgent group. Army and police fled to Iran along with their weapons, vehicles and other ammunition, according to reports.
On Saturday, defense ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said that Abdul Khaleq also known as Aka Abed, Taliban’s shadow governor for Nimroz was among 30 fighters who were killed in an Afghan airstrike.
Aman said that all the killed people were residents of Punjab province of Pakistan. Pakistan has been frequently blamed by Afghanistan for supporting and sheltering Taliban, an allegation always rejected by Islamabad.
The defense ministry spokesman said that in the neighboring province of Helmand, government forces attacked Taliban gatherings of Lashkar Gah city and the Marjah district, in which 276 fighters were killed and another 48 wounded.
“Unfortunately, foreign terrorists are still cooperating with Taliban in their attacks and most of them are al-Qaeda affiliates who support Taliban insurgents in the south and east of the country,” Aman said.
He said government forces are fighting to retake Zaranj city.
On Friday, deputy provincial governor Hajji Nabi Barhawi confirmed the fall of provincial capital to Taliban.
He told the media that government forces fought with the attackers for one hour before fleeing.
Four of Nimroz’s five districts are held by Taliban and only the district of Char Borjak and part of Delaram district are in government control, according Barahawi.