Two provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban within 24 hours, local officials confirmed to The National.

Government-aligned forces retreated from Sheberghan in Jowzjan province in the north on Saturday.

This came a day after Zaranj, the capital of the south-western Nimruz province – a key border town – was also seized by the insurgents.

Jowzjan, which is a stronghold of Abdul Rashid Dostum, the former Afghan vice president, was being defended by his son Yar Mohammad Dostum, along with members of a local volunteer force that had mobilised to fight the Taliban.

“They have entered Sheberghan and taken control of government facilities and buildings,” a local government employee who identified as Abdul Rauf told The National.

“The only area they don’t have control of is Bandar Aqina, which is a key border crossing,” he added, referring to a border town that lies between Jowzjan and Faryab province. It is about 100 kilometres from Sheberghan.

“Marshal Dostum’s older son, Yar Mohammad Dostum, is leading a resistance effort along with local militia groups and government forces, but the Taliban are still in control of large parts of Sherberghan,” Mr Rauf said.

Read full report on The National