Taliban sweep through Afghan districts

An Afghan security official inspects a local's paperwork at a checkpoint in Kandahar.
An Afghan security official inspects a local's paperwork at a checkpoint in Kandahar.

Taliban militants have captured two more districts in the north of Afghanistan, local officials have confirmed, as the insurgents continue gaining ground while foreign forces withdraw.

The militants have taken control of Shirin Tagab district in Faryab province and Dahan-e Ghori district in Baghlan province in the past 24 hours.

In Faryab province, more than 200 pro-government forces surrendered to the militants on Thursday after being under siege for years, several provincial councillors told dpa.

More than a hundred military vehicles were seized by the Taliban, too, they added.

"(The government forces) fought with all force for five days but they finished their ammunition," said councillor Sebghatullah Sailab.

"Finally, they were forced to surrender to the Taliban."

The forces surrendered a day after more than 20 commandos were killed in neighbouring Dawlat Abad as they tried to recapture the fallen district.

"They lost their morale after the commandos were killed," another councillor, Mohmmad Arif, said.

In Baghlan province, the security forces abandoned the district centre and retreated to a military base in the provincial capital Pul-e-Khumeri to escape the Taliban's intense attacks, three provincial officials said.

Since the beginning of the official withdrawal of NATO troops on May 1, at least 29 districts have fallen to the Taliban.

Afghanistan has 34 provinces and around 400 districts.

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

According to a UN report, the Taliban was able to capture five districts last year, four of which were recaptured by the government within several days.

Australian Associated Press