The Taliban encouraged aid groups to help victims of the massive earthquake in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan as rescuers struggled to form a clear picture of the damage caused by the disaster as the death toll passed 300.
With large mountainous areas of Afghanistan hit and icy weather closing in, the unstable security situation has posed a major challenge to international aid groups that have been repeatedly targeted by insurgents.
But the Taliban, which have driven their Islamist campaign against the Western-backed government in Kabul across the country this year, indicated they would not stand in the way of aid efforts and ordered fighters to help victims.
"The Islamic Emirate calls on our good-willed countrymen and charitable organizations to not hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims," the group said in a message of condolence to quake victims, using its formal name. (REUTERS)