Amid the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, Taliban on Thursday captured the strategic Ghazni city on Thursday, taking them to within 150 km (90 miles) of Kabul following days of conflict as the group ruled out sharing power with the government based there.
The conflict has sparked recriminations among many Afghans over US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops and leave the Afghan government to fight alone, news agency Reuters reported.
The gateways to the capital have been choked with people fleeing violence elsewhere in the country this week, Reuters quoted Western security source as saying.
It was hard to tell whether Taliban fighters were also getting through, the report quoted the source further saying.
With the last of the US-led international forces set to leave by the end of the month and end the United States’ longest war, the Taliban are now in control of about two-thirds of the country.
In Kandahar, heavy fighting was reported near the city’s prison, on the outskirts of the city, which the militants have been trying to reach for weeks.
The Taliban claimed on Twitter late Wednesday that the facility was “completely conquered after a long siege”.
“Hundreds of prisoners were released and taken to safety. Prison security personnel also surrendered,” the tweet said.
Earlier a report quoting US intelligence suggested that Taliban could take control of the capital within 90 days.
Al Jazeera reported a government source saying it had offered the Taliban a share in power, as long as the violence comes to a halt.
Meanwhile, the negotiators of the government of Afghanistan in Qatar have offered the Taliban a power-sharing deal in return for an end to fighting in the country, a source privy to the development told news agency AFP on Thursday.
“Yes, the government has submitted a proposal to Qatar as mediator. The proposal allows the Taliban to share power in return for a halt in violence in the country,” the report quoted the source further saying.
As per reports, the militant group now controls 65% of Afghanistan and has taken or threatens to take 11 provincial capitals, a senior EU official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
All entry points to Kabul, which lies in a valley surrounded by mountains, are choked with civilians fleeing elsewhere, a Western security source in the city told Reuters, making it hard to tell whether Taliban fighters were also entering.
On Wednesday officials said Taliban seized three more provincial capitals in Afghanistan and a local army headquarters, AP reported.