Clashes as Taliban block road near Maidan Shahr
MAIDAN SHAHR (Pajhwok): Fierce clashes broke out in various areas on Thursday between security forces and Taliban militants after the rebels blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway near the capital of central Maidan Wardak province, eyewitnesses said.
The insurgents blocked the road in Sur Pul area near Maidan Shahr in the morning, leaving a large number of vehicles stranded on both sides of the blockade, said Ahmad Javed, who lives in nearby Farooqkhel area of the provincial capital.
He said clashes between security forces and insurgents were underway in Kashmiri Qala, Khwaja Bazaar, Durrani and Sur Pul areas as of 4pm in the afternoon.
Javed had no information about casualties in the clashes, but said the sounds of heavy weapons firing could be heard and it was possible both the sides had suffered casualties.
Mustafa, a resident of Durrani area, told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban had blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway and a clash between them and security forces was ongoing there.
“There is a clash ongoing in our village, a large number of security forces have arrived. Two fighter jets hovered over the area at 12pm, but returned without bombardment.”
A resident of Chak district of Maidan Wardak, Mohammad Halim, said: “I was going to the district centre but was told the road is blocked near Maidan Shahr.”
He said fierce clashes between security forces and Taliban militants were underway in areas from Tora Tiga to Sur Pul.
A security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the road between Kabul and Ghazni had also been blocked and the Taliban had been firing rockets since morning into Maidan Shahr.
He said light and heavy weapons fire from both the sides could be heard in the provincial capital.
But the Maidan Wardak governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, said there was no security problem on the Kabul-Bamyan and the Kabul-Kandahar highways.
He said militants had blocked the highways in the morning, but they were reopened as a result of a military operation.
During the operation, he said, eight militants were killed and eleven others wounded while security forces and civilians escaped unhurt.
“The Taliban snatched the keys of some vehicles from motorists on the Kabul-Kandahar highway and that was why the road was blocked. There is no other problem.”
He said local officials were trying to start the vehicles the keys of which had been taken away by the rebels.
Khogyani earlier confirmed the road blockade to Pajhwok Afghan News and said security personnel had been trying to clear the highway of the Taliban. He denied the blockade of the Kabul-Ghazni highway, but acknowledged three rockets had been fired by the militants on Maidan Shahr, causing no casualties.
The Taliban have so far said about the closure of the roads, but their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the fighters fired rockets at the governor’s house and clashed with security forces in Kashmiri area, inflicting heavy casualties on them.
The Taliban kept the Kabul-Kandahar highway closed for three days until they were driven by security forces late on Wednesday.
The rebels have reportedly closed the same route in Kharijwe area near Qalat, the capital of southern Zabul province.
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