• Taliban advances to finalise government, fresh fighting breaks out in Afghan holdout


    Kabul: Fortnight after the US troops left Afghanistan, Taliban have advanced to strengthen their hold over the country, even as they finalise a new government that will set the tone for their rule. Transitioning from terrorists to rulers, a challenge that the people staying in the country have been facing and will now see a full fledged change, the hardline Islamists appear determined to snuff out the Panjshir resistance before announcing who will lead the country in the aftermath of Monday’s US troop withdrawal, which was supposed to end two decades of war.

    But Panjshir, which held out for nearly a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001, is stubbornly holding out.

    Fighters from the so-called National Resistance Front (NRF), made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces -- are understood to have stockpiled a significant armoury in the valley, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kabul and guarded by a narrow gorge.

    Celebratory gunfire rang out in the capital Kabul overnight as rumours spread that the valley had fallen, but the Taliban made no official claim Saturday and a resident told AFP by phone that the reports were false.

    The Emergency Hospital in Kabul said two people were killed and 20 wounded by the salvos, as the Taliban tweeted a stern admonishment warning its fighters to stop.

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