The first Afghan city fell to the Taliban Friday when the militants overran Zaranj, the provincial capital of Nimruz in southwestern Afghanistan, bordering Iran.  Haji Nabi Barahwe, the deputy provincial governor, confirmed to VOA the Taliban has captured the city, and Afghan security forces have retreated to the Delaram district of Nimruz province.  
“Zaranj city fell into Taliban’s hands,” Haji Nabi Barahawe told VOA. “The Taliban took control of the office of the governor. Afghan security forces are scattered. Forces from the National Directorate of Security fought the Taliban for an hour. Currently, the government forces control only Chahar Burjak district.”  
He did not say whether the NDS forces surrendered or retreated and he added that the  Taliban have control over three of the five districts in the province.Taliban Assassinate Head of Afghan Government Media Department The Taliban claimed responsibility for the death, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid sending a message to media saying ‘he was killed in a special attack carried out by mujahideen’ 
Separately, the Taliban assassinated the Afghan government’s top media officer Friday in Kabul.
Dawa Khan Menapal, head of the Government Media and Information Center, was targeted in a high-security zone of the Afghan capital.  
The Taliban, in a brief statement sent to media, took responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series of assassinations of senior government officials carried out by the insurgents.  
Acting U.S. Ambassador in Kabul Ross Wilson denounced the killing of Menapal.  
“We are saddened & disgusted by the Taliban’s targeted killing of Dawa Khan Meenapal, a friend and colleague, whose career was focused on providing truthful information to all Afghans about #Afghanistan,” Wilson wrote on Twitter. “These murders are an affront to Afghans’ human rights & freedom of speech.”Qari Ahmad Yousf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted that the provincial governor house building, provincial police compound, and other government buildings in Nimroz were under their control. Pro-Taliban accounts showed pictures and videos of militants in front of government buildings.  Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary said it looks like the Taliban used the same tactic they did in other parts of the country. They negotiated with tribal elders ahead of time. “Reportedly, elders and others approached the provincial government and requested that they surrender to the Taliban without a fight,” Sarwary said.He also said Thursday night someone raised a Taliban flag in the center of the city and  caused panic.  At least one social media video showed prisoners escaping from Nimruz prison, while another showed what appeared to be looting in Zaranj.Nimruz is a small town. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist Frud Bezhan called it “an isolated town in the remote southwestern province of Nimroz, not a “major city” nor even a “city” at all,” in his Tweet. Already seeing journalists mischaracterize Zaranj, which fell to the Taliban. It is an isolated town in the remote southwestern province of Nimroz, not a “major city” nor even a “city” at all. That said, it is a commercial hub that has strategic and economic value.— Frud Bezhan فرود بيژن (@FrudBezhan) August 6, 2021It is a major transit hub for trade with Iran, however, as well as a human smuggling route. According to local channel Tolonews, a large number of Afghans from Nimruz anticipated a Taliban onslaught and attempted to flee across the border with Iran, but the border guards stopped them and sent them back.    
Fierce fighting was continuing Friday in several Afghan cities. On Friday, Taliban militants entered parts of Sherbeghan, the provincial capital of Jowzjan province and home to warlord Field Marshall Abdul Rashid Dostam.  
An Afghan defense ministry spokesman, however, claimed later in the evening that Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) restored government control over Sheberghan. Fawad Aman vowed security forces will clear Nimroz of the Taliban soon.#Sheberghan has been cleared of the terrorists. #ANDSF and Public Uprising Forces inflicted heavy casualties to #Taliban and the death bodies remained on the streets and alleys of the city. Taliban will be defeated in #Nimruz as well.— Fawad Aman (@FawadAman2) August 6, 2021
It was not possible to immediately to verify the claims from independent sources, as both of the Afghan warring sides routinely exaggerate their battlefield gains.Ayaz Gul in Islamabad and VOA’s Afghan Service in Washington contributed to this report.

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