KABUL, Afghanistan

The Taliban staged coordinated assaults on Afghanistan’s third-biggest city Herat for the first time in 20 years, officials confirmed on Friday.

Hours after the assaults, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned in the “strongest terms” the attack on its main compound in this western city near the border with to Iran that resulted in the death of an Afghan police officer and the injury of others.

“The attack targeting entrances of the clearly marked United Nations facility was carried out by Anti-Government Elements,” said UNAMA, adding that the area around Herat where the compound is located witnessed fighting between the Taliban and government forces.

“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said UNAMA chief Deborah Lyons. “Our first thoughts are with the family of the officer slain and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured.”

“The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account,” said Lyons, who is also UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Special Representative for Afghanistan.

For their part, the Taliban claimed that they had captured the Karkh and Guzara districts of Herat. The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, said on Twitter that a large cache of arms and other resources were captured by the Taliban fighters.

Local officials in the province told Anadolu Agency that five members of security forces were killed and 21 others injured in the Taliban assaults in Herat. According to the head of the regional public hospital, Arif Jalali, among the injured were three civilians and 18 security forces wounded by gunfire.

Guzara constitutes the doorstep of Herat, a city with a population of around 2 million.

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