In Panjshir, anti-Taliban forces repulse attacks

34 militants killed, 65 injured, they say

The Taliban on Wednesday called on fighters in the holdout bastion of the Panjshir Valley to lay down their arms, as the resistance movement said it had repulsed heavy attacks.

The rugged mountain valley with towering snow-capped peaks — which begins around 80 kilometres north of the capital Kabul — is the centre of Afghanistan’s most important pocket of armed anti-Taliban forces.

The National Resistance Front (NRF), comprising anti-Taliban militia fighters and former Afghan security forces, have vowed to defend the enclave as the Islamist group sends fighters to encircle the area.

“My brothers, we tried our best to solve the Panjshir problem with talks and negotiations… but unfortunately all in vain,” senior Taliban official Amir Khan Muttaqi said, in an audio message to the people of the Panjshir posted on Twitter.

“Now that the talks have failed and Mujahiddin (Taliban) have surrounded Panjshir, there are still people inside that don’t want the problems to be solved peacefully,” he added.

“Now it is up to you to talk to them,” the Taliban message to the Panjshir people said. “Those who want to fight, tell them it is enough.”

Bismillah Mohammadi, Afghanistan’s Defence Minister before the government fell last month, said the Taliban had launched a renewed assault on Panjshir on Tuesday night.

“Last night the Taliban terrorists attacked Panjshir, but were defeated,” Mr. Mohammadi tweeted Wednesday, claiming that 34 Taliban were killed and 65 wounded.

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