Hours after the Taliban claimed its fighters have taken control of Panjshir Province of Afghanistan, the last holdout of the anti-Taliban resistance force, the latter have said that their battle against the terror outfit will continue.
The Panjshir province, which has remained impregnable by Taliban for decades was the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country.
According to witnesses from the area, thousands of Taliban fighters overrun eight districts of Panjshir overnight.
On Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement said Panjshir was now under the control of the Taliban fighters.
Following the Taliban’s declaration of victory, the National Resistance Front has said that it is present in “strategic positions” in the valley and that “the struggle against the Taliban and their partners will continue.”
The anti-Taliban forces had been led by the former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and also the son of the iconic anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed just days before the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Massoud’s son Ahmad, who was following in his father’s footsteps, had issued a statement Sunday, calling for an end to the fighting that had been blistering in the recent days.
The young British-schooled Massoud said his forces were ready to lay down their weapons, but only if the Taliban agreed to end their assault. Late on Sunday, dozens of vehicles loaded with Taliban were seen swarming into Panjshir Valley.
There has been no statement from Saleh, Afghanistan’s former vice president who had declared himself the acting president after Ashraf Ghani fled the country on August 15 as the Taliban reached the gates of the capital.
The Taliban subsequently entered the presidency building that day.
In his statement, Mujahid sought to assure residents of Panjshir that they would be safe even as scores of families reportedly fled into the mountains ahead of the Taliban’s arrival.
“We give full confidence to the honourable people of Panjshir that they will not be subjected to any discrimination, that all are our brothers, and that we will serve a country and a common goal,” Mujahid said in the statement.
(With inputs from agencies)