Taliban gains ground as 2 more Afghan districts fall

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In further gains since the official start of the withdrawal of the international troops, Taliban insurgents have captured two more districts in Afghanistan, officials said on Monday.

In northern Faryab province, the government forces abandoned the Qaysar district centre, which houses senior local officials, late on Sunday, reports dpa news agency.

The forces fled to a hilltop in a village nearby after days of heavy fighting, including a car bomb attack on Saturday on the local police headquarters that left several police officers dead.

About a hundred forces were feared to have been killed, wounded or taken captive in recent days, an informed source in the province told dpa.

Only a small number of forces kept resisting on Monday from the hilltop, provincial councillors Abdul Manan Qati and Fazel Haq Mohammadi said.

In the meantime, the Taliban took control of Shahrak district in western Ghor province on Sunday evening, an official said on Monday.

Speaking to broadcasters, Ghor Governor Abdul Zahir Faizada said that in order to avoid civilian casualties, the government forces have tactically retreated from the district centre.

Faizada added that fighting with the militants on Sunday left seven security forces dead, and wounded three others.

The militants have made a string of gains in the country.

Since the beginning of the official withdrawal of the US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan on May 1, at least nine districts have fallen to the Taliban.

Afghanistan has 34 provinces and 388 districts.

District centres serve as secondary-level administrative units, one level below the provinces.