Naeem visits Sangin as clashes continue
LASHKARGAH (PAN): As armed clashes between Afghan forces and insurgents continued for a fifth straight day on Friday in the Sangin town, Helmand Governor Mohammad Naeem said the government forces had been able to retake areas overrun by heavily armed militants in the district.
Naeem, who arrived in the town along with an official delegation, told reporters that security forces had retaken villages which fell into the hands of insurgents four days ago following clashes with local policemen. He explained the areas fell to the Taliban because the local police force lacked sufficient weapons.
The governor said a major operation, involving national police, national army, local police and intelligence operatives was underway to establish the government's writ across the town.
A commander of the 215 Maiwand Military Corps, Syed Malook, said the troops had the ability to clear all of the areas from insurgents in one day, but they were doing everything humanly possible to avoid civilian casualties.
The military official said the battles involved hundreds of insurgents, including Pakistanis and Chechens, who sneaked into the district from nearby Kajaki, Musa Qala, Baghran and Griskhk districts and from Ghorak, Zherai, and Maiwand districts of neighbouring Kandahar province.
He said the attackers were putting up stiff resistance, but the security forces were making grounds, adding so far 47 insurgents have been killed. Five policemen were also lost to the battles, he said.
A local police member, Mohammad Sharif, said the force was much strong as compared to the insurgents, but it lacked modern weapons and other facilities.
A Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi in an e-mail said fierce clashes between the fighters and Afghan forces were underway in many parts of the district.
He said the fighters had killed dozens of troops which included their four commanders, Ahlullah, Abdullah, Gulalai, and Jan. He also claimed a helicopter was shot down and a huge of quantity of weapons and ammunition was seized from government forces.
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