Clashes intensify in Panjshir; both sides suffer casualties

NRF members in Panjshir. File photo.

At least eight members of the national resistance front (NRF) who were taken captive by the Taliban were killed in Panjshir as clashes continue in the province for the past two days, leaving casualties on both sides.

The clashes that are underway for the past four days.

Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir is leading the fight in Panjshir that started on Friday by deploying thousands of Taliban fighters after 16-day planning, two sources said.

Sources from both sides said that at least 8 NRF members have been killed in the clashes. The fighting has also left at least 60 Taliban members dead and wounded, the sources said.

Mullah Mohammad Yar, his two sons and five other NRF members were taken captive by the Taliban in Khinj district and were later shot dead by the Taliban while their hands were tightened.

A video on social media shows the bodies of Yar Mohammad and other members of the resistance front.

Back on August 14, a Taliban outpost was attacked by Commander Yar Mohammad in which 25 Taliban members were killed.

Local sources said that the Taliban has started house searches and harassment of the people after they suffered heavy losses in the clashes.

A resident of Khinj district in Panjshir, who wished not to be named over security reasons, said that the Taliban had beaten up his 13-year-old brother in the district.

“Taliban has started house searches. They beat up my 13-year-old brother after they searched our house and asked him to introduce to them relatives of NRF members,” said the resident.

There are unconfirmed reports that the deputy of Qayum Zakir has been killed in Panjshir clashes.

Asadullah Nadim, a military affairs analyst, said that the NRF forces are in an unequal war considering their number and equipment, but the recent conflicts showed that “the Taliban has lost its morale in Panjshir.”

“The geography of Panjshir and Helmand have many differences, and Mullah Zakir will not benefit from this fight,” said Nadim.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that at least 40 NRF members, including three commanders – Fahim Commando, Jawad and Mohammad Yar – were killed and 101 others were wounded in “a clearance operation” in Dara, Rokha and Afshar districts of Panjshir. The NRF spokesman Sebghatullah Ahmadi said the killing of eight NRF prisoners by the Taliban is a war crime by the group.

Following the fall of the previous government, NRF forces led by Ahmad Massoud have been fighting the Taliban in Panjshir province and Andarab district in Baghlan over the past year. During this time, key Taliban commanders, including its acting defense minister, have led the fight in Panjshir.