Helmand fighting being brought under control gradually
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Local security officials on Sunday said ongoing clashes in central areas of southern Helmand province had come under control, but public representatives stressed the need for defeating militants comprehensively.
Some days ago, the Taliban captured a number of security posts in the Babaji area of Lashkargah, the provincial capital, and parts of Nad Ali and Greshk districts, prompting the security forces backed by foreign troops to launch airstrikes.
Provincial Council Chairman Karim Khan Attal told Pajhwok Afghan News the ongoing fighting was fuelling concerns because some areas of the provincial capital were still under high threat.
“Afghan forces are fighting on with a high moral, but it is a matter of concern that the clashes have widened to the periphery of Lashkargah, where the government must send reinforcement as soon as possible,” he stressed.
The provincial councils were supportive of the forces in improving security, the public representative said, adding ouster of the insurgents from the areas was essential for peace in the province.
However, police commander Maj. Ahmad Shah, leading the fight against the militants in Babaji area, insisted they had sufficient equipment and weapons. “The Taliban have tried to several times capture our posts, but were pushed back.”
The rebels were holed up in civilian houses, causing some residents casualties, he said, blaming the fighters for blowing up bridges and torching a number of schools and government facilities during the fighting.
Mohammad Rassoul Zazai, t215th Maiwand Military Corps spokesman, said clashes on the outskirts of Lashkargah, Nad Ali and Greshk districts were being brought under control. The security forces would not let the militants overrun any area, he assured.
Zazai claimed 250 militants, including 14 commanders and 11 Pakistani nationals, had been killed and 106 others injured during the offensive over the past few days.
However, another security official said the Taliban had captured 17 of the 20 security posts in Babaji area. “Only three posts are under security forces’ control. But we cannot go from one post to another, because of gunfire from the rebels.”
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi claimed they had captured large areas on the outskirts of Lashkargah and in Greshk and Nad Ali districts. He said many security personnel had suffered casualties.
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