Rebels driven from many Helmand strongholds
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Officials said on Monday Taliban insurgents have been driven from their strongholds in several towns of southern Helmand province as a result of an ongoing military operation.
The operations are underway in Nawa, Musa Qala, Marja and some other parts infested with insurgents, the officials said.
Col. Mohammad Rassoul Zazai, the 215th Maiwand Corps spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the operations were aimed at eliminating poppy fields and improving security ahead of the April elections.
He said dozens of militants had been killed and injured and a huge quantity of weapons seized during the offensive.
Meanwhile, Omar Zawak, the governor’s spokesman, said the operations that also involved police had been launched in line with a decision taken by the provincial administration.
As part of the operations, he said, poppy crops grown over 10,000 hectares of land would be destroyed as the primary task.
Contrary to the previous years, Zwak said this year’s anti-poppy campaign targeted the illicit crop grown over usurped lands.
“Currently all security officials have been trying to maintain security for the elections and pave the ground for holding the ballot in a peaceful environment,” he said.
Police spokesman Col. Abdul Ahad Chopan said five militants were killed during the operation in Nawa district.
Meanwhile, residents said the operations against militants had been effective, but stressed special attention be given to polling stations.
A community council member in Marja, Akhtar Mohammad Niazi, they were supportive of the operations and there had been no collateral damage so far.
He said the operations should be particularly focused on security for polling centres in a move to enable people to vote without any fear.
A tribal elder in Nawa Haji Atiqullah told Pajhwok locals supported the military operations, which could rinse the town of militants.
“These operations have been launched in the Trakha Nawar area, which is away from the district centre. The operations have so far been going well. The area is home to Taliban, who try to reach the district headquarters,” the elder said.
Officials say the operations launched weeks ago had so far resulted into the death of more than 20 insurgents and the clearance of many areas from them.
The Taliban have so far said nothing about the operations, but they have claimed inflicting heavy casualties on foreign and Afghan forces during the past one week in Helmand.
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