The UN says more than 1,000 people have been killed or injured in Afghanistan over the last month, as the Taliban continue to advance, seizing control of its sixth city on August 9.
In the last 72 hours, 27 children have been killed and 130 injured in the Kandahar province alone. The number of casualties has been rising since US and NATO forces began withdrawing from the country.
"I am extremely concerned by the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 people have been killed or injured due to indiscriminate attacks against civilians [...] in the last month alone," said Martin Griffiths from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"Afghan children, women and men are suffering and forced to live with violence, insecurity, and fear every day. There are grave concerns for women’s survival and basic human rights. Forty years of war and displacement, compounded by climate shocks and COVID-19, have left almost half of Afghanistan’s population in need of emergency aid."
Jihadist groups tweeted that all government outposts had been "cleared" after Aibak, the capital of the Samangan province, fell to the hands of the Taliban.
Insurgents had entered Aibak without a fight after community elders pleaded with officials to spare the city from more violence following weeks of clashes on the outskirts.
Later that day, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman appeared on television claiming the Taliban had suffered heavy losses at the hands of government forces.
Fears the government is struggling to keep militants at bay
The jihadist group, emboldened by the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, has overrun five provincial capitals across the north, sparking fears the government is rapidly losing control of the region.
The Taliban has also taken Zaranj, the capital of the Nimroz province, in the southwest.
Thousands have fled from the fallen cities to the capital Kabul. But worries continue to grow, as calls for a ceasefire have been rejected by the militants.
"Everybody is fearful of the Taliban because they have caused terror in areas they have captured," said Ghulam Reza, an Afghan shopkeeper.
Fighting in Afghanistan's long-running conflict has escalated dramatically since May, when US troops started withdrawing from the country, a process set to be completed at the end of the month, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
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