FILE - Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district on the outskirts of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, on July 18, 2017.
FILE - Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand with their weapons in Ahmad Aba district on the outskirts of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province, on July 18, 2017.

ISLAMABAD - The Afghan Taliban captured another district in northern Takhar province Monday night — a third to fall into militant control in the province this month. Jawad Hejri, a spokesman for Takhar’s governor, told VOA Afghan security forces retreated from the district center after two days of heavy fighting.

However, provincial officials rejected a Taliban claim of killing 20 security personnel, saying no one was hurt in the attack.

The security forces withdrew to avoid civilian casualties, and reinforcements were being sent from the center of the province, Hejri told Afghan TV channel Tolo News.

Heavy clashes in northern Takhar province have been going on for months and residents had been calling on the central government to provide more support.

Fighting continues in Khwaja Ghar district, which borders the volatile Chah-e-Aab district that fell to the Taliban last week.

Meanwhile Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, claimed Taliban fighters captured Darqad, another district in the province Tuesday morning. His claim was also confirmed by local authorities.

FILE - An Afghan security forces member takes part in a military operation in Jurm district, Badakhshan province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2018.

Afghan forces recaptured two districts in neighboring Badakhshan province this week. One of them, Warjod, had been in Taliban control for five years.  

Afghanistan is preparing to hold a presidential election on September 28 opposed by the Taliban. They have told the population to stay away from election related activities, including rallies or polling booths.  

Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump called off peace negotiations with the Taliban that his special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been carrying on for almost a year.