Taliban capture Afghan district on Pak border: Official

Taliban captured administrative headquarters of a remote E. Afghan district on Saturday, officials said, while fate of cops was unclear.

Updated: May 29, 2010, 17:47 PM IST

Kunar (Afghanistan): Taliban militants
captured the administrative headquarters of a remote eastern
Afghan district Saturday, officials said, while the fate of
police officers guarding it was unclear.

Insurgents had surrounded Bargi Matal district in
Nuristan province, which borders Pakistan, yesterday and
engaged police in a fierce gun battle, Nuristan governor
Jamaludin Badr said.

"Since the district headquarters is inside the village
in a crowded location we had to make a tactical retreat to
avoid casualties to civilians" living in nearby houses, he

Afghan authorities often use the term "tactical
retreat" when Taliban have overrun police forces and captured

An army border police commander in the area, Mohammad
Gul Himat, said police responsible for protecting the district
had been missing since yesterday and it was not clear if they
had deserted or been killed or captured.

Only border police had remained to carry on the fight,
which lasted all yesterday night and today morning, he said.

"Now we have lost contact with the border police down
in the district centre and we don`t know if they are all
killed or have been captured," he said.

"Taliban have control over their radio facility which
means Taliban have captured the district," he said.

Nuristan is a mountainous and rural province with
difficult terrain.

Bargi Matal is the second district in the province to
be captured by the Taliban after Kamdesh -- which also shares
a border with Pakistan -- fell several months ago following
the withdrawal of international forces.