Afghans flee amid Taleban invasion

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 26 Jul 2021

More than 20,000 Afghan families are said to have fled their homes to escape fighting around Kandahar.

Violence has surged across several provinces including Kandahar since May, when the Taleban launched an offensive days after US-led foreign forces began a withdrawal.

The Taleban assault has seen them capture scores of districts and encircle provincial capitals.

"The fighting has displaced 22,000 families in the past month in Kandahar," said Dost Mohammad Daryab, head of the provincial refugee department. "They have moved from volatile districts."

Fighting continued yesterday on the outskirts of the city.

"The negligence of some security forces, especially police, has made way for the Taleban," said Lalai Dastageeri, deputy governor of Kandahar province.

Local authorities have set up camps for an estimated 154,000 displaced people.

Kandahar resident Hafiz Mohammad Akbar said his house was taken by the Taleban. "They forced us to leave," he said.

Kandahar, with 650,000 inhabitants, is the No 2 city in Afghanistan after Kabul.

The Taleban offensive launched has seen the group take control of half of the country's 400 districts.

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, said last week that the Taleban had "strategic momentum."

And rights group Human Rights Watch said there were reports of Taleban atrocities in areas they captured.

"Taleban leaders have denied abuses, but growing evidence of expulsions, arbitrary detentions and killings in areas under their control are raising fears," said HRW's Patricia Grossman.

In Kabul, authorities have arrested four men for rocket attacks on President Ashraf Ghani last Tuesday as he performed outdoor prayers to mark the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

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