Three Taliban sources said the militia had on Friday seized the Panjshir valley north of Kabul, the last province of Afghanistan holding out against it, although a resistance leader denied it had fallen.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are in control of the entire Afghanistan. The troublemakers have been defeated and Panjshir is now under our command,” said one Taliban commander.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the reports, but deafening volleys of celebratory gunfire resounded all over Kabul and Facebook accounts were full of mentions of the fall of Panjshir.
A BBC World journalist posted a video clip on Twitter in which former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, one of the leaders of the opposition forces, said he was still in the valley.
“There is no doubt we are in a difficult situation. We are under invasion by the Taliban,” he said. “We have held the ground, we have resisted.”
He also tweeted to say: “The RESISTANCE is continuing and will continue. I am here with my soil, for my soil & defending its dignity.”
His son Ebadullah Saleh also dismissed reports of the fall of Panjshir, where thousands of fighters from regional militias and remnants of the old government’s forces had massed under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud, the son of late Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Massoud himself tweeted: “News of Panjshir conquests is circulating on Pakistani media. This is a lie.”
There had been reports of heavy fighting and casualties in the valley, which is walled off by mountains except for a narrow entrance and had held out against Soviet occupation as well as the previous Taliban government that was ousted in 2001.
The Taliban seized Kabul on Aug. 15 after rapid advances across Afghanistan.