Toll mounts; Helmand battle enters 3rd day
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): A an intense firefight continued for the third consecutive day on Saturday between Afghan security forces and militants in southern Helmand province, leaving five Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and 27 Taliban dead, an official said.
The gunbattle was sparked by an insurgent attack on a military base that formerly housed British troops in the restive province. Late on Thursday, the 215th Maiwand Military Corps said the coordinated attack on Camp Bastion had been repulsed.
Omar Zwak, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the fight was still going on. He said 27 attackers and five ANA soldiers had been killed and nine other security personnel wounded so far.
Six of the fighters were suicide bombers who were killed when they detonated their explosives; the others were shot dead during an exchange of gunfire with security forces, he added. The skirmish took place when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives before three of his associates tried to force their way into the base.
Simultaneously, another group of insurgents launched an attack from another side of the base, he added. A military official, wishing anonymity, said the fight was still underway. The Camp Bastion is located between Nad Ali and Washer districts.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, asserting responsibility for the attack, said that the assailants were equipped with light and heavy weapons. He claimed a number of aircraft and tanks were destroyed.
Ahmadi said heavy casualties had been inflicted on local and foreign troops. British soldiers vacated Camp Bastion, their last military base, and handed it over to Afghan troops on October 26.
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