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Taliban Overrun Kayan Valley

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KANDAHAR, June 29, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Arrested militants stand handcuffed in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 29, 2019. Government forces have arrested 40 armed militants in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province over the past 10 days, Kandahar provincial governor Hatytullah Hayat said Saturday. (Xinhua/Sanaullah Seiam/IANS) by Sanaullah Seiam.
Arrested militants stand handcuffed in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 29, 2019. Government forces have arrested 40 armed militants in Afghanistan\'s southern Kandahar province over the past 10 days, Kandahar provincial governor Hatytullah Hayat said Saturday. (Xinhua/Sanaullah Seiam/IANS)

Locals have said that the Taliban fighters captured the area on Monday night after fierce fighting that left a dozen dead and injured from both sides.

KANDAHAR, June 29, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Arrested militants stand handcuffed in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 29, 2019. Government forces have arrested 40 armed militants in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province over the past 10 days, Kandahar provincial governor Hatytullah Hayat said Saturday. (Xinhua/Sanaullah Seiam/IANS) by Sanaullah Seiam.
Arrested militants stand handcuffed in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 29, 2019. (Xinhua/Sanaullah Seiam/IANS)

Taliban militants have captured the strategically important Kayan valley in Dushi district of Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province, District Governor Sahib Dad Ghafoori said on Tuesday.

“Taliban have overrun Kayan valley,” Ghafoori told Xinhua without providing more details.

Locals have said that the Taliban fighters captured the area on Monday night after fierce fighting that left a dozen dead and injured from both sides.

Observers in Baghlan province believe if the Taliban militants were able to keep control over Kayan valley, they could attack the main highway linking the national capital Kabul to northern Mazar-e-Sharif and central Bamian cities.

Taliban militants have yet to make comment.

More violence

At least 34 people were killed and 68 injured after a powerful blast claimed by the Taliban rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul in the morning rush hour on Monday, authorities said.

The attack comes when a Taliban delegation and US representatives are carrying out the seventh round of meetings in Qatar to discuss peace negotiations in Afghanistan.

A witness told Xinhua news agency that militants entered an under-construction building in the morning in the high security Pul-i-Mahmoud Khan area of Kabul and exchanged fire with the security forces who reached the site to control the situation.

According to the witness, the militants first detonated their explosives-laden car and then began firing.

The area targeted is close to a branch of the the Defence Ministry building, a sports stadium, a branch of the Information and Culture Ministry and houses.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement, saying that the target had been the logistics and engineering department of the Ministry of Defence, Efe news reported.

The initial explosion at the entrance opened the way for insurgents to enter the building and target the personnel inside, according to the statement. It claimed that several soldiers and Defence Ministry officials had been killed so far and that the attack was still underway.

Following the explosion, which could be heard several kilometres away, a huge rising column of smoke could be seen.

Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. (File Photo: IANS) by .
Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

Defence Ministry vice-spokesperson Fawad Aman told Efe that the attack occurred near the Ministry’s logistics and engineering department.

Facilities located near the site of the bombing include the headquarters of Shamshad TV where several of its employees were injured in the explosion, said one of its journalists.

The incident comes as American and Taliban negotiators are meeting in Qatar amid hopes for a deal on an American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Both sides are seeking a way out of nearly two decades of armed conflict in the nation, although, so far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.