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Afghan Officials Confirm Taliban Captured Remote District

Afghan forces are being flown to Yumgan in Badakhshan Province on November 19.
Afghan forces are being flown to Yumgan in Badakhshan Province on November 19.

Following days of intense fighting, hundreds of Taliban fighters have captured a remote district in Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan Province, which borders Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan.

A lawmaker representing Badakhshan in Afghan Parliament confirmed Yumgan district has fallen to the Taliban.

In a telephone interview with Radio Free Afghanistan on November 19, Mohammad Zakaria Sawda said that despite strong resistance from Afghan security forces Taliban fighters are now in control of most territory in the mountainous region.

"Security forces, particularly the Afghan National Army, strongly resisted. But the local and national police could not resist, and they retreated," he said. "All areas including the district center, district police center, the education department building, and a few villages -- in terms of percentage, more than 80 percent of the district has fallen under Taliban control."

Earlier on November 18, Badakhshan Governor Ahmad Faisal Begzad also confirmed the fall of Yumgan to the Taliban.

Sawda said the Taliban were trying to create a safe haven for their fighters in Badakhshan by attempting to take over four surrounding districts. Three of these -- Jurm, Baharak, and Zibak -- border Pakistan, while the Kuran Va Munjan district borders Nuristan Province.

In May, Afghan security forces retook Yumgan several days after it fell to the Taliban.

At that time, Nawroz Mohammed Haidari, the district governor of Yumgan, told Radio Free Afghanistan that the Taliban swept into the district on the morning of May 21.

"We were living in a state of siege for the past eight months. The Afghan forces stationed here strongly resisted, but we got no reinforcements," he said. "As a result, the Taliban now control the district."

Afghan officials say the influx of thousands of Central Asian fighters has destabilized many provinces in northern Afghanistan that border Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Since April, scores of districts have fallen to the insurgents. The Taliban also briefly captured Kunduz, the biggest city in the region.

Central Asian fighters fled to Afghanistan to escape a large-scale Pakistani military operation that began in June 2014. The offensive is ongoing in the mountainous North Waziristan tribal district, which borders the southeastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Paktika.