Taliban, opposition fight for holdout province

Taliban and opposition forces on Saturday battled to control the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, the last Afghan province holding out against the Islamist group… with both sides claiming to have the upper hand without producing conclusive evidence.

A Taliban spokesman said forces now control four of the province’s seven districts.

But the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan said it surrounded (quote) "thousands of terrorists" … and that ‘heavy clashes’ were going on.

In a Facebook post, the local leader of Panjshir said the province "continues to stand strongly.”

Earlier, a Taliban source said the group's advance was slowed by landmines placed on the road to the provincial capital.

It was not immediately possible to get further independent confirmation of events in the valley - which the Taliban were never able to control when they last ruled Afghanistan years ago.

On Friday - celebratory gunfire was heard in Kabul as reports spread of the Taliban's takeover of Panjshir.

News agencies reported that at least 17 people were killed and 41 hurt in the gunfire.

In Kabul on Saturday, Taliban fighters broke up a demonstration by about a dozen women urging the group to respect women's rights to education and jobs.

That’s according to private broadcaster Tolo news - the footage showing women coughing.

One demonstrator said the fighters had used tear gas and tasers against the participants.

The Taliban imposed violent punishments and barred women from school and work when previously in power, but have sought to present a more moderate face this time.

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