The Taliban assassinated the Afghanistan government’s top media official Friday, in addition to capturing one of the country’s provincial capitals, all as the U.S. continues withdrawing its troops from the nation in a process that is 95 percent complete.
A police spokesman in the southern Nimroz province told CNN that the capital, Zaranj, had fallen due to a lack of reinforcements.
“A local source said the Taliban had seized the governor’s office, the police headquarters and an encampment near the Iranian border,” the outlet reported.
The head of the Government Media and Information Centre, Dawa Khan Menapal, was assassinated in Kabul by Taliban attackers who are seeking to weaken President Ashraf Ghani’s government, a democratic republic.
The “savage terrorists killed” Menapal during Friday prayers, according to an official in the federal interior ministry.
“[Menapal] was a young man who stood like a mountain in the face of enemy propaganda, and who was always a major supporter of the [Afghan] regime,” Mirwais Stanikzai, a spokesperson for the interior ministry, told CNN.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson tweeted that he was “saddened & disgusted” by the assassination of Menapal.
“These murders are an affront to Afghans’ human rights & freedom of speech,” he tweeted.
We are saddened & disgusted by the Taliban’s targeted killing of Dawa Khan Meenapal, a friend and colleague, whose career was focused on providing truthful information to all Afghans about #Afghanistan. These murders are an affront to Afghans’ human rights & freedom of speech.
— Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson (@USAmbKabul) August 6, 2021
Amir Mohammad Malikzai, the district governor of Sayed Abad in Maidan Wardak, was also killed this week.
The Taliban has stepped up its campaign to impose strict Islamic law and defeat the government as foreign forces have withdrawn from the region.
“This is the beginning and see how other provinces fall in our hands very soon,” an unnamed Taliban commander told CNN.
Taliban fighters have assassinated social activists, journalists, bureaucrats, judges and public figures as they try to silence dissenting voices.
“The Taliban launched violent attacks on the outskirts of [provincial capital] Sheberghan this week and during heavy clashes a pro-government militia forces’ commander loyal to [the Abdul Rashid Dostum militia group] was killed,” said Abdul Qader Malia, the Jowzjan province’s deputy governor, according to CNN.
Approximately 1,659 civilians were killed and 3,524 injured in the first half of 2021 in the chaos threatening the country as non-government and government forces butt heads to determine the future of post-American Afghanistan, a July report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan stated.
The number of casualties reported by UNAMA, a 47 percent increase over the first six months of last year, demonstrate what it says is a reversal in the trend of declining civilian casualties seen in recent years.
President Joe Biden intends to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31.
As of Aug. 3, over 95 percent of the entire withdrawal process had been completed, according to a news release from the U.S. Central Command.
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