KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Taliban fighters have overrun two districts in the southeastern province of Paktika, on the border with Pakistan, officials said Tuesday as heavy fighting continued across Afghanistan.
Local officials said Taliban fighters began attacking security checkpoints and the centers of Omna and Gayan districts in Paktika on Sunday, forcing Afghan security forces in the area to pull out, leaving large quantities of weapons and equipment.
"After almost two days of heavy fighting, Taliban captured both district centers," provincial council member Fazel Rahman Katawazi said, adding that three members of the Afghan security forces were killed and a number of others injured.
The Taliban have taken a series of district centers this year, many of which have been subsequently retaken by Afghan security forces, which control areas with around two-thirds of the country's population.
On Monday, U.S. Army General John Nicholson, who commands the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, said security had improved in 14 districts and declined in eight others this year, leaving the overall levels of government control across the country roughly stable.
In the neighboring province of Zabul, south of Paktika, 15 members of the security forces were killed and 18 others were injured after Taliban fighters stormed Atghar district, provincial council member Haji Atta Jan Haqbayan said.
The Taliban attackers were eventually pushed back as the Afghan security forces received air support, losing 25 killed and 20 wounded, he said.
Gul Islam Sial, provincial spokesman for Zabul, confirmed the attack and casualties among the Afghan security forces, but provided no more details.