Afghanistan’s government imposed a night-time curfew across 31 of the country’s 34 provinces in a bid to counter the lightening expansion of the Taliban offensive in recent months, the interior ministry said.
“To curb violence and limit the Taliban movements a night curfew has been imposed in 31 provinces across the country,” except in Kabul, Panjshir and Nangarhar, the interior ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The move comes as Kabul is struggling to contain the forward march of the insurgents who have made rapid gains in the past couple of weeks.
The Taliban control about half of Afghanistan’s district centers.
Ghani get’s another Biden assurance
As the US inches towards completing its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden assured Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani of US diplomatic and humanitarian support on Friday.
In a phone call, Biden and Ghani “agreed that the Taliban’s current offensive is in direct contradiction to the movement’s claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict,” a White House statement said.
Biden has set a formal end to the US military mission in Afghanistan for August 31 as he looks to disengage from a conflict that started after al Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
Biden told Ghani the United States would remain engaged diplomatically “in support of a durable and just political settlement,” the White House said.
The United States is also preparing to begin evacuating thousands of Afghan applicants for special immigration visas (SIVs) who risk retaliation from Taliban insurgents because they worked for the US government.
A depleted Afghan air force
Afghan lawmakers have voiced alarm that their air force have been depleted in the face of a Taliban offensive as they asked the United States to finalise assistance ahead of a troop withdrawal.
In virtual talks this week with the US Congress, an Afghan delegation said it appealed for quick action on aircraft maintenance and munitions supplies as President Joe Biden prepares to end America’s longest-ever war by the end of next month.
“The security situation is really getting terrible,” said senior Afghan MP Haji Ajmal Rahmani, referring to a Taliban offensive.
Rahmani said that one-third of the 150-strong fleet was already grounded due to maintenance issues.
He said the Afghans had also run out of laser-guided munitions as the United States and NATO allies had handled 80 to 90 percent of the armaments and did not leave a supply during hasty pullouts of air assets.
Laser-guided munitions are critical to pinpointing targets and minimising civilian casualties, he said.
“The feedback was that it will take some more time because they have to make the orders and it will take time to produce and ship to Afghanistan,” he told a roundtable of the State Department Correspondents’ Association.
“They are talking of around one year, more or less, until it will reach Afghanistan. This is something very much needed at this critical time.”