Taliban Assassinate Top Afghan Government Spokesman, Take Control of Provincial Capital

Taliban terrorists ambushed the Afghan capital of Kabul on Friday and assassinated the director of a state media center while also taking control of a provincial capital in the province of Nimroz.

The murder of Dawa Khan Menapal, who handled the Afghanistan government’s interactions with local as well as foreign media, came as local officials announced the capital of Zaranj appeared to be the first provincial capital to fall to the terrorist group since the pullout of U.S. troop in February 2020.

“We are saddened & disgusted by the Taliban’s targeted killing of Dawa Khan Meenapal, a friend and colleague, whose career was focused on providing truthful information to all Afghans,” U.S. Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson said on social media.

“These murders are an affront to Afghans’ human rights & freedom of speech,” he added.

Ross-Wilson
Ambassador Ross Wilson, U.S. Charge D’Affaires, speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 30, 2021. (Stringer/Reuters)

Clashes between Afghan forces together with targeted militias allied with the government and Taliban terrorists have recently intensified across the South Asian nation as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the United States, and foreign forces are leaving.

The Islamic terrorist group has been fighting fierce battles to claim more territory, laying siege to provincial capitals in the south and west of the country after capturing district after district and even seizing several key border crossings.

Though Zaranj appeared to be under full control of the insurgents on Friday, the Afghan government said they are still fighting around key infrastructure in the city. But the terrorists posted multiple images online that showed the insurgents inside a local airport and at the entrance to the city.

Some of the images were posted by Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi. Additional sources also confirmed the provincial capital has fallen under the control of the extremist group.

“This afternoon in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, the governor’s office, command, and many other facilities fell into the hands of Mujahidin,” Ahmadi said on Twitter, adding pictures of the insurgents who appear to have taken control of the provincial capital. Mujahidin is an Arabic term that broadly refers to Islamic terrorists.

Friday’s assassination of Afghanistan’s Government Information Media Center Director Menapal has dealt a high-profile blow to the Western-backed administration following battlefield gains by the Islamic terrorist group.

NTD Photo
Smoke rises from the city of Lashkar Gah after an airstrike against the Taliban in Helmand province south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2021. (Abdul Khaliq/AP Photo)
NTD Photo
Afghan security personnel arrives at the area where the director of Afghanistan’s Government Information Media Center Dawa Khan Menapal was shot dead in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

The assassination took place during weekly Friday prayers, according to the Interior Ministry’s deputy spokesman, Said Hamid Rushan. After the shooting, Afghan forces fanned out across the neighborhood of Kabul where Menapal was gunned down.

Nimroz is sparsely populated in a region that’s mainly desert and Zaranj, the provincial capital, has about 50,000 residents. Its fall to the Taliban, if confirmed, was a mostly symbolic victory for the insurgents.

“He [Menapal] was a young man who stood like a mountain in the face of enemy propaganda, and who was always a major supporter of the [Afghan] regime,” said Mirwais Stanikzai, a spokesperson of the interior ministry.

More than half of Afghanistan’s 421 districts and district centers are now in Taliban hands. While many of the districts are in remote regions, some are deeply strategic, giving the Taliban control of lucrative border crossings with Iran, Tajikistan, and Pakistan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.