Talks underway with Taliban in Sangin
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The special commander of security forces in southern Helmand province on Wednesday said negotiations had been launched with Taliban insurgents to end the conflict in Sangin district.
Gen. Asadullah Sherzad, who was recently appointed as special commander of Helmand security forces to deal with the situation in Sangin, told reporters in Lashkargah the peace talks were currently focused on troubled Sangin and would be held in adjacent towns later.
He said talks with tribal elders and insurgents had a positive impact on the security situation. As a result of the talks, he said, security incidents in Sangin and other districts had declined but further improvement required some more time.
Sherzad claimed some Taliban commanders had told them they were tired of the war and wanted to join the peace process. He said if the talks bore positive results in Sangin, the effort would be initiated across Helmand and then extended to other provinces.
He listed negligence before the start of the conflict in Sangin, lack of proper coordination among security organs, drug trade and interferences of neighbouring countries as the main factors behind the prolonged battle.
Sherzad said security forces stationed in Helmand outnumbered insurgents by 17 times, but did not give exact figures.
Besides negotiations with insurgents, the special commander said they worked to resolve internal issues among security organs and their coordination and the outcome would be known soon.
However, Sherzad did not say under which conditions they had opened talks with the rebels and who were mediators.
A resident of Fateh Mohammad Pech area of Sangin, Roohullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News that there had been a lull in insurgent attacks over the past few days.
Another resident of the town, Habib Rashid, said the displaced families had returned to their homes and the last week had been violence free.
But a Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, rejected if the Taliban had agreed to peace talks with the government in Sangin.
He said no talks on ending the battle had taken place and that the fighting was still ongoing and they had no plan to enter talks with the government.
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