TARIN KOT, Afghanistan, Sept. 8 (UPI) — Central Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province is under siege by Taliban militants in a coordinated attack to take control of the key district, authorities said Thursday.
Taliban insurgents from nearby Helmand and Kandahar provinces overran security checkpoints into the city, and a Taliban spokesman said large parts of the city of about 75,000 are now under their control. Fighting was intense around the police headquarters, the main prison facility and governor’s office.
The coordinated attack comes as the Islamist insurgency has opened new fronts of combat in eastern, southeastern and internal Afghanistan. Afghan forces have largely concentrated their defenses in urban centers, and this week’s combat has stretch the resources of the Afghan army. Last week Gen. John Nicholson, commander of United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said 900 Afghan soldiers and police officers died in July battling the insurgency.
Afghan television stations reported hundreds of government troops were arriving in Tarin Kot to defend it, and residents were leaving. A U.N. report predicted one million people in Afghanistan will be displaced by the fighting, with 1.2 million already regarded as refugees.