News Fighters assemble as Taliban moves on hold-out Panjshir province

Fighters assemble as Taliban moves on hold-out Panjshir province

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The militant Islamist Taliban in Afghanistan have said they are seeking a negotiated solution to the question of who rules Panjshir, the only province they have not yet conquered.

Panjshir lies along a valley to the north-east of Kabul.

The Taliban said on Twitter on Monday that they were trying to find a political solution.

At the same time, they said that Taliban fighters from the neighbouring provinces of Panjshir – Badakhshan, Takhar and the district of Andarab in Baghlan – had taken up positions near the province.

It further said that any enemy presence had been eliminated in Pul-e Hesar and Dih Salah districts in Baghlan province.

In recent days, there had been reports of skirmishes between local militias and the Taliban in Baghlan province.

On Saturday, the previous chairman of the National Reconciliation Council, Abdullah Abdullah, had held talks on the future of Panjshir province with representatives from the province.

Panjshir was not conquered by the Taliban even during their first rule between 1996 and 2001.

Apart from the fierce resistance of the Northern Alliance, this was also due to its geographical location – the entrance to the valley is narrow and easily defended.

While the Islamists attacked practically all provinces in the past few months, there were only isolated attacks on Panjshir.

Most recently, prominent Afghans from the valley said they were building a second resistance against the Islamists and spoke of not recognising the Taliban as the legitimate leaders of the country.

However, the Panjshiris also said they wanted to wait for political talks. Taliban circles are talking about negotiations that should lead to the surrender of the Panjshiris.

Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary late leader of the Northern Alliance, which fought against the Islamists in the 1990s, is a Panjshiri. Abdullah Abdullah was one of his closest companions.