Taliban rebels have overrun a district center in western Afghanistan as fighting took place in a nearby area captured earlier this week, a provincial official said yesterday.
The Taliban have massed in unusually large numbers in the last week in the west and near the main southern city of Kandahar, challenging assertions by the Afghan government and foreign troops that they can rout the rebels in any direct engagement.
A Taliban leader vowed to press on with the campaign to overthrow the Afghan government and eject the 50,000 foreign troops with the same intensity through the winter.
Some 400 Taliban fighters took over the district center of Gulistan in the western province of Farah on Monday. While Afghan and NATO-led forces were battling to take it back, the insurgents took over the neighboring district center of Bakwa.
Fighting continued around the town of Arghandab, 12km from Kandahar. Canadian forces in Kandahar said it was one of the most organized Taliban offensives they had seen.
Meanwhile, US and Afghan troops raided a compound in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday night, sparking a gunbattle that killed three people, including two children, officials said yesterday.
The military has launched an investigation into the incident, spokesman Major Chris Belcher said.