The Taliban captured the city of Ghazni on Thursday, 150 kilometers southwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul. It is already the tenth provincial capital to fall into the hands of the Taliban in a week.
“I can confirm that Ghazni fell into the hands of the Taliban this morning (Thurs, ed.). They have taken control of the city’s main areas: the governor’s office, the police headquarters, and the prison,” said Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of the provincial council in Ghazni. According to him, there is still fighting in several places in the city, but the Taliban are in control. The radical movement also claimed to have conquered the city.
Since the Taliban launched their offensive in May, encouraged by the departure of the US military, Ghazni has been the closest provincial capital to Kabul that they have captured.
Since the start of the offensive, they have conquered large parts of the countryside without encountering much resistance. Their advance has accelerated in recent days with the capture of several cities. They now control ten of the 34 provincial capitals. Seven of these are in the north of the country, a region that has resisted the Taliban in the past. Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled to Kabul, among other places.
On Tuesday evening, they captured Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province, 200 kilometers north of Kabul. They thus approach the capital, both from the north and the south.
After Kunduz, a strategic crossroads in the northeast, Ghazni is the Taliban’s most important conquest. Although Islamists have long been present in Wardak and Logar provinces, a few dozen kilometers from Kabul, the fall of Ghazni is a disturbing signal for the capital.