UN chief alarmed by Taliban bid to seize Afghan districts
( AFP ) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about attempts by Taliban extremists to take control of some districts in Afghanistan.
"The Secretary General has followed with concern the recent fighting in Afghanistan, in particular around Kandahar and in Farah provinces, where formed groups of Taliban have attempted to take and hold certain districts," his spokeswoman said Monday.
Michele Montas said in a statement that Ban "underlines the crucial role that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan security forces are playing to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a host for terrorist and extremist groups."
Ban noted that "it is an unfortunate reality that such operations continue to be necessary in Afghanistan to bring about lasting peace and "a world without terrorism."
And he appealed to all governments involved in Afghanistan "to maintain their existing commitments in order to ensure the success of the joint effort to rebuild Afghanistan."
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fields 37,000 troops from 37 nations in Afghanistan. Separately, there are around 11,000 US-led coalition troops also battling militants from the ousted Taliban.
Early Monday, Taliban extremists briefly captured a third district in western Afghanistan but were driven out by Afghan forces and their international allies, officials said.
Taliban fighters in about 40 vehicles stormed into Khaki Safed district in the province of Farah around 1:30 am and took the administration headquarters, police and government officials said.
Farah province, which borders Iran, had its Gulistan and Bakwa districts seized by Taliban rebels last week after intense fighting.
The Taliban, in government between 1996 and 2001, have previously overrun several districts in remote parts of Afghanistan but have been easily ejected with the help of the multinational forces.