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Updated: May 29, 2010 19:39 IST

Taliban capture Afghan district after heavy combat

DPA
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An Afghan police officer stands near a burning oil tanker carrying fuel supplies for NATO forces after it was allegedly attacked by Taliban on Jalalabad highway, east of Kabul. Photo: AP.
An Afghan police officer stands near a burning oil tanker carrying fuel supplies for NATO forces after it was allegedly attacked by Taliban on Jalalabad highway, east of Kabul. Photo: AP.

The Taliban claimed on Saturday to have captured a district in eastern Afghanistan following heavy combat with Afghan police and pro—government militiamen that lasted for five days.

Insurgents overran the district centre of Bargi Matal in the eastern province of Nuristan on Friday night, Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said.

“This morning we completely captured the district centre and our mujahideen killed 28 government forces,” Mujahid told the German Press Agency dpa by phone from an undisclosed location.

Qasim Paiman, the provincial police chief for Nuristan, confirmed the loss of the district centre on Saturday morning. “In order to avoid civilian casualties, we retreated,” he told private television channel Tolo.

Provincial governor Jamaluddin Badr said the militants captured only two police posts, while Zaman Mamozai, border police commander in the eastern region, said they had lost communication with district authorities.

The Taliban “might have captured the district,” Mr. Mamozai said.

Hundreds of Taliban, including Pakistani and Chechen fighters, attacked the district on Monday, but were beaten back by police and local militiamen during the week, according to Mr. Badr.

Several local authorities said on Thursday that they had reports that Maulana Fazlullah, a top Pakistani Taliban commander, was killed by government troops in the district. The Taliban denied the claims.

Fazlullah is known as “Mullah Radio” for his broadcasts from north—western Pakistan against the government and the West. He was believed to have escaped to Afghanistan along with his fighters after Pakistani military forces conducted operations in his home district of Swat Valley last year.

Bargi Matal borders Chitral, a tribal area in Pakistan, where Taliban are said to be most active.

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