40 rebels killed in northern Afghanistan’s Panjshir: Taliban says
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The Taliban says it has killed 40 members of a rebel force, including four commanders, in the northern Afghanistan province of Panjshir.
The Taliban proclaimed victory over the province in September 2021, weeks after it took over the capital, Kabul, as foreign forces withdrew.
Resistance groups have since said they have been carrying out operations in the area and clashing with Taliban fighters.
The Taliban has in the past denied widespread fighting, saying it has established control of the entire country.
“Due to a clearance operation against rebels in Rekha, Dara and Afshar (areas) of Panjshir province, 40 have been killed including four commanders and 100 more have been arrested,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet on Tuesday.
The National Resistance Front (NRF), a group opposing the Taliban which has in the past claimed activity in the area, said the Taliban was exaggerating the number of fighters killed.
“We refute the numbers. They have inflated the numbers,” Ali Nazary, head of NRF’s foreign relations, told the AFP news agency.
“Only a small group of our forces were captured and killed by the Taliban. Our forces fought fiercely till the last bullet.”
The NRF was the last to hold out against the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August last year by retreating to the valley.
Headed by the son of rebel leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, NRF forces in May announced an offensive against the Taliban – their first since the group seized power.
Located just north of the capital, Kabul, the scenic Panjshir is one of the smallest of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
It played a critical role in the resistance against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and was the centre of resistance against the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan from to 1996 to 2001.