ANA loses 116 troops in Helmand in 4 months
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Increasing insecurity in southern Helmand province have led to a rise in casualties among Afghan National Army (ANA) troops and police, an official said.
Syed Malook, a 215th Maiwand Corps commander, acknowledged the security situation in Helmand had deteriorated since the start of the current Persian year.
Speaking at the ANA base in Shorab on Thursday evening, the military commander said 116 Afghan troops had been killed and more than 400 others wounded in Helmand over the past four months.
Despite their casualties, the soldiers had been able to defeat the Taliban in different parts of the province. He cited the ongoing operation in Sangin as an example of ANA's growing strength.
The soldiers had controlled the district security situation, but lack of coordination among other government organs caused a return to insecurity, the official explained, blaming the provincial administration for failing to deliver basic services to the people.
Many families were displaced and their homes damaged as a result of fighting in the area, but the government had extended no assistance to the affected households, the commander continued.
Deputy Governor Ahmad Massoud Bakhtawar confirmed there were a number of problems in Sangin and elsewhere in the province, but they were doing their bit to resolve them. The displaced people were being assisted, he claimed.
He complained fighting and Taliban-planted roadside bombs had caused many civilian casualties and that was why the government urged the insurgents to shun violence and participate in the country's reconstruction.
Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller Jr., commander of the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command Southwest, said Afghan forces were leading operations. Foreign troops advised them and helped evacuate the casualties, he explained.
"Trained in an effective way, Afghan forces are doing quite well," Miller said, promising that NATO would continue to train, advise and assist them after an end to the combat mission in 2014.
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