‘Tactical Retreat’ Preceded Fall of Nerkh District: Officials

Following reports about the fall of Nerkh district of Maidan Wardak province to the Taliban, Afghan security officials said that the security forces made a “tactical retreat” from the district.

Maidan Wardak’s governor said that the security forces retreated from the district as part of a “conspiracy,” without further elaborating. He said the district is currently under Taliban control.

However, the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) has rejected any kind of “conspiracy” and said that reinforcements have been sent to recapture the district from the Taliban.

“Regrettably, the Taliban took over the district last night because of a conspiracy, the security forces then made a tactical retreat, the district building has sustained damages,” said Abdul Rahman Tariq, the governor of Maidan Wardak.

The Taliban meanwhile released footage and claimed that their fighters have taken Nerkh from the government forces.

The Taliban also claimed to have killed many soldiers and taken dozens more hostage.

“Unfortunately, the situation is not stable even in the city, if this situation continues we will face a tragedy,” said MP Abdul Rahman Wardak.

Nerkh district is only 30 kilometers away from Kabul.

“If the security forces do not capture the district, Sayedabad district will also face serious threats,” said Amir Mohammad Malikzai, the district governor of Sayedabad.

“The landmines planted along the way by the enemy and their use of civilian’s homes slowed our operations,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

“(Losing) a district is a big issue, even if a check post falls for a day, then we will have a very serious situation in the next two or three months and it will be very difficult to compensate it,” said MP Karim Atal.

Meanwhile, Mullah Mannan Niazi, the deputy leader of a splinter group of the Taliban led by Mullah Rasul, was wounded in a clash in western Herat province on Tuesday evening, sources said.

“Last night Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi was hit by three bullets in the head during a battle, three of his colleagues were killed,” said Herat governor Sayed Wahid Qatali.

Local officials have not commented on the report.

The clash occurred around 10 pm local time in Guzara district in Herat after several attackers targeted the area where he lived, the sources said, adding that “he got injuries on his head and is under treatment at Herat’s regional hospital.”

Over the past two weeks, violence has significantly increased in Herat, Farah, Badghis, Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Logar, Balkh, Kunduz, Baghlan and Maidan Wardak provinces.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs said on Tuesday that 15 suicide attacks and dozens of other attacks have been carried out “by the Taliban” since the start of Ramadan on April 13.

The ministry said that 500 more civilians were wounded in the attacks during this period.

The Interior Ministry said that the Taliban were responsible for 200 blasts and 15 suicide bombings during Ramadan.

The Taliban has denied the government’s claims that the group has a big hand in civilian deaths.

The first day of Ramadan on April 13 witnessed clashes between Afghan security forces and the Taliban, in which eight civilians were killed and 21 more were wounded.