The Afghan Taliban captured another district in northern Takhar province, a third to fall into militant control in the province this month.
According to the Jawad Hejri, a spokesman for Takhar’s governor, 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 localTV channel.
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.
Fighting continues in Khwaja Ghar district, which borders the volatile Chah-e-Aab district that fell to the Taliban last week.
Fighting in Takhar appears to be part of a larger Taliban offensive in northeastern Afghanistan. Last week, the Taliban attempted to overrun Kunduz, the largest city in the region and capital of a neighboring province by the same name.
Fighting is widely expected to spike across Afghanistan following the collapse of peace talks between the Taliban and U.S. officials this week.