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Bombings Hit Shi'ite Area Of Afghan Capital As More Districts In Provinces Fall To Taliban

Afghan security forces inspect the wreckage of a passenger van after a bombing in Kabul on June 12.

Officials in the Afghan capital reported dual bomb attacks that killed at least seven people on June 12 as reports from the provinces said two more districts had fallen to Taliban militants.

In Kabul, at least two bombs struck minivans about 2 kilometers apart in a predominantly Hazara area in the west of the city, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

There were at least six people wounded, in addition to the seven deaths initially confirmed, officials said.

A Kabul police spokesman, Firdous Framarz, told RFE/RL that both blasts were caused by so-called sticky bombs, which are attached to vehicles with magnetics.

No group claimed responsibility.

The same area has been the scene of at least four other attacks on minivans in the past month that have killed 18 people and were claimed by Islamic State (IS) militants.

One of the explosions detonated in front of the Muhammad Ali Jinnah hospital, a center for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Reports of new fighting in the provinces on June 12 suggested the Taliban has now captured at least 10 districts among several provinces since May 1, when U.S. and other foreign forces officially began withdrawing from the decades-old conflict.

In western Ghor Province, a district chief in Tulak told Radio Free Afghanistan on June 12 that a Taliban attack had killed 19 security troops and wounded 20 more there.

Ghor's governor's office confirmed that communication with Tulak had been cut off since late morning on June 12 but did not say whether the town had been captured by militants.

But a source in Ghor's provincial administration who was not authorized to speak publicly on the events confirmed that the Taliban now controlled the district of Tulak.

Government forces have withdrawn from the district and police headquarters, the same source said.

In the northern Afghan province of Balkh, local officials said Taliban fighters had captured the Zara district after a long siege that eventually forced government troops to evacuate the district headquarters.

Provincial councilor Afzal Hadid said the militants had blocked water supplies to the compound.

Differing reports said security forces had withdrawn or relocated the security forces but suggested there were no casualties on the government side.

Elsewhere, reports said Taliban fighters launched large-scale attacks on two districts of northern Kunduz Province.

A police spokesman in Kunduz said the attacks had been repelled in fighting that left one Afghan soldier dead and 27 Taliban militants dead.

A spokesman for the Afghan National Army's Shaheen Corps in the north of the country told RFE/RL on June 12 that at least 20 Taliban insurgents had been killed by air strikes in the Balkh, Dawlatabad, and Chamtal districts.

The dead included a Taliban commander known as Mullah Delawar, the spokesman said.

Another Afghan corps reported that 47 Taliban militants were killed in an operation in the Andar district of Ghazni Province late on June 11.

Radio Free Afghanistan could not immediately confirm the casualty reports on either side.

With violence raging, there is concern the departure of foreign forces could lead to the collapse of the government in Kabul and return of the Taliban to power.

One high priority is securing Kabul's international airport to ensure diplomatic and humanitarian work can continue in the country.

The Taliban has reportedly rejected NATO member Turkey's proposal to guard and run the airport after other U.S.-led NATO forces depart.

A Taliban spokesman said on June 10 that Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan together with all other international forces.

Under the February 2020 deal secured with the Taliban under former President Donald Trump, all U.S. forces and NATO forces were to be out of Afghanistan by May 1.

U.S. President Joe Biden pushed back the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops to September, citing logistical complications of leaving earlier.

With reporting by AP and dpa
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