The strategically important Janikhel District in the Paktia Province has a lot to like from the perspective of the Taliban insurgency. Mostly rural tribal areas, the long, narrow district begins near the Pakistan border and winds deep into Afghanistan, giving its controller easy access to offensives against Khost and Gardez, as well as an opportunity to get reinforcements from Pakistan.
Over the weekend, and in pretty short order, the Taliban overran the district, with hundreds of Taliban having the entire area surrounded for several days before sweeping in and overwhelming the police checkpoints. The district governor says no reinforcements were offered.
Actually, the district governor says he went to the provincial police chief to ask for reinforcements and his bodyguards beat him up. His force was hugely outnumbered, and fell in short order. The governor warns that the Taliban has plans to take neighboring districts too as a way to give the Haqqani Network, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, deep access into eastern Afghanistan.
While the district governor is pushing for a quick counterattack, because he obviously wants his district back, the Afghan government is increasingly struggling to get enough forces into all the areas being attacked by the Taliban, with this just one of three major offensives ongoing on opposite sides of the country.
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