Taliban says 40 rebel force members killed in northern Panjshir

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KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban said on Tuesday they had killed 40 rebel force members, including four commanders, in the northern Afghan province of Panjshir.

The Taliban proclaimed victory over the province in September 2021, weeks after they took over the capital Kabul as foreign forces withdrew.

Resistance groups have since said they have been carrying out operations in the area and clashing with Taliban fighters.

The Taliban has in the past denied widespread fighting, saying they have established control of the entire country.

"Due to a clearance operation against rebels in Rekha, Dara and Afshar (areas) of Panjshir province, 40 have been killed including four commanders and 100 more have been arrested," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Tweet on Tuesday.

The National Resistance Front, a group opposing the Taliban which has in the past claimed activity in the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Located just north of the capital Kabul, Panjshir is one of the smallest of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. It played a critical role in the resistance against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and was the centre of resistance against the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan from to 1996 to 2001.

(Reporting by Mohammad Yunus Yawar; Writing by Charlotte Greenfield; editing by Jonathan Oatis)