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Remote Afghan District Falls to Taliban

An official in a remote district in northeastern Afghanistan has confirmed that the region has fallen under Taliban control.

Nawroz Mohammad Haidari, the district governor of Yumgan in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, told RFE/RL’s 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 did not get reinforcements," he said. "As a result the Taliban now control the district."

Haidari said that at least 45 security members were still under siege by the Taliban and their lives were at risk without military support from Kabul. He claimed that the Afghan forces had inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban by fighting the advancing rebels from trenches.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed that their fighters had "conquered" Yumgan. "The Islamic Emirate’s white flag was being hoisted there," he said in a statement e-mailed to journalists.

Haidari said that the Taliban forces that attacked the district included significant numbers of Pakistanis, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Arabs, along with local residents who had previously attended Pakistani madrasas.

In March Haidari had told RFE/RL’s website, Gandhara, that the Taliban had made a comeback into Yumgan with the help of its ally, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a trans-Central Asian extremist organization believed to be operating out of bases in northwestern Pakistan.

"As the main government representative here my life is in danger, and so are the lives of other prominent figures and residents of my district," he said.

At that time Noor Aqa Naderi, governor of the neighboring Jurm district, said that out of almost 90,000 residents of his district only some 25,000 live in regions administered by the government.

"If this lasts until spring, when the snow melts and movement between mountain communities becomes easier,” Naderi warned then, "some other Badakhshan districts might fall into insurgent hands."