Taliban fighters overrun remote northern district in Afghanistan
Taliban fighters have taken over a district of a remote northern province of Afghanistan and intense gun battles are going on as government forces fight to retake it, officials said.
Sonatullah Taimor, spokesman for the governor of Takhar province, said the insurgents used heavy and light weapons in the battle for Darqad, which borders Tajikistan.
He said six Afghan security forces were killed in the fighting.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid emailed media organisations to say the battle for Darqad began at dawn on Wednesday. He said two militants were killed as the insurgents captured government buildings including police headquarters.
Officials said the Taliban has joined with other insurgents such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and are spreading across the north with the aim of infiltrating Central Asian states.
The area was not affected by the earthquake that struck northern Afghanistan on Monday.
In late September, the combined insurgent force took control of the capital of northern Kunduz province and held it for three days before Afghan forces launched a counter-offensive.
The audacity of that attack took the Kabul government by surprise and highlighted weaknesses in intelligence and military organisation nine months after international combat forces led by the US withdrew from Afghanistan.
Some areas in Badakhshan that are suffering earthquake damage have a Taliban presence, officials have said, which could hamper relief efforts there.
The Taliban, responsible for thousands of deaths since launching an insurgency after their regime was toppled in a 2001 US invasion, issued a statement saying fighters would help in the rescue and relief effort in earthquake-hit areas.