Taliban Offensive Cuts of Link Highway Between Kabul and Three Afghan Provinces
Taliban fighters | File Image | (Photo Credits: Getty)

A wide-ranging offensive launched by the Taliban over the weekend which appeared to be aimed at seizing the Sayed Abad district headquarters, in the Maidan Wardak province has left 14 police men dead and cut off the link highway between Kabul and three Afghan provinces.

The assault launched by Taliban fighters destroyed highway bridges southwest of Kabul, cutting off road traffic between the capital city and three provinces for most of the day on Sunday, Afghan officials said.

Interior Ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said a district police chief was among the 14 casualties in the firefight as the Taliban fighters tried but failed to capture the Sayed Abad district headquarters in the Maidan Wardak province. He said another seven security forces were wounded. The highway between Kabul and Kandahar has since been reopened, and “the route has returned to normal,” he added.

The destruction of the bridges cut off the main highway from Kabul to the Ghazni, Zabul and Kandahar provinces. The battle also cut off electricity to four provinces: Maidan Wardak, Logar, Ghazni and Paktia.

The Taliban have intensified their nationwide offensive against the United States backed government in Kabul this year with multiple attacks – suicide bombings and open assaults, across Afghanistan.

At the start of this year, a BBC study found that Taliban fighters, whom U.S.-led forces spent billions of dollars trying to defeat, are now openly active in 70% of Afghanistan.

The study shows the Taliban are now in full control of 14 districts (that's 4% of the country) and have an active and open physical presence in a further 263 (66%), significantly higher than previous estimates of Taliban strength.

About 15 million Afghans - half the country’s population - live in areas that are either controlled by the Taliban or where the Taliban are openly present and regularly mount attacks.