KUNDUZ: Taliban fighters seized a district centre in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, while a bomb at an army base in the southern province of Helmand killed at least five people. The latest violence came as insurgents pushed ahead with a spring offensive.

Fighters captured the go­­vernor’s house and police headquarters in Aq Tapa, in the Qala-e Zal district of Kunduz province and Af­­g­han government forces were fighting to drive them out, said Sayed Assadullah Sadat, a provincial council member.

The Taliban’s main spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said fighters had captured a police headquarters, 10 security check posts and a market in Qala-e Zal, north of Kunduz city.

At the other end of the country, in Helmand, insurgents launched a vehicle bomb attack on a military base in Nad-e-Ali district, killing four civilians and a soldier, according to a statement from the provincial governor’s office.

The Taliban announced the official start of their annual spring offensive this week, continuing the heavy fighting seen across Afghanistan recently as warmer weather has set in.

In the eastern province of Nangarhar, a rocket fired by Taliban fighters hit a house in the Hoodi area of Goshta district on Friday night. Five civilians were killed and three were injured.

The fighting may threaten preparations for parliamentary and district council elections planned in October.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2018