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Displaced Afghanis shelter in tents in the courtyard of a mosque in Kabul Displaced Afghanis shelter in tents in the courtyard of a mosque in Kabul  (AFP or licensors)

Thousands flee Taliban lightning advance

Thousands of Afghanis have fled to the capital Kabul as Taliban forces make rapid progress through the country.

By Nathan Morley

The Taliban has continued its lightning offensive in Afghanistan and now controls scores of towns and cities in the country.

As of Friday, thousands of people are seeking safety in the capital Kabul.

The Taliban now control a third of Afghanistan's provincial capitals, and 18 cities.

In recent weeks, violence has escalated after American and other international forces began to pull out their troops from the country.

The fall of Kunduz last Sunday after fierce fighting with government forces, saw heavy artillery fire in some areas.

The city is home to 270,000 people and is considered a gateway to the country's mineral-rich north.

A day earlier, the Taliban seized the country's second-largest city, Kandahar.

Despite the setback, Afghan officials continue to insist their forces remain in the cities that have fallen, and fighting is continuing.

However, Taliban soldiers have made rapid advances in the last fortnight.

Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden said he did not regret withdrawing troops from Afghanistan but insisted the United States was keeping the commitments it had made to the Kabul government.

A US-led military campaign began in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks but now most of the foreign troops have pulled out.

The UN says more than 1,000 civilians have been killed amid fighting between the Taliban and government forces in the past month.

Meanwhile, Germany is suspending deportations for Afghan migrants whose visa applications have been rejected.

France and the Netherlands have taken similar action.

13 August 2021, 14:21