Conflict in Helmand intensifying, say tribal elders
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The provincial council chief and tribal elders on Wednesday warned any negligence in strengthening security in southern Helmand province would produce dire consequences.
Provincial council chief Karim Khan Atal told Pajhwok Afghan News the conflict in Helmand was intensifying by each passing day, but security officials remained unconcerned.
He said nothing had been practically done to strengthen security in the province and only a 100-member commando troops had reached Helmand.
Of the commandos, he said, 60 had conducted operations in Sangin and no reinforcements had reached any other area.
Atal said security forces only controlled the district administration and police headquarters buildings in Sangin and Taliban controlled the rest of the town.
He said Taliban were in control of many areas of Greshk, Marja and Khanshin and threatened the rest.
“Security officials in Helmand on the one hand are not exhibiting good leadership and on the other providing misinformation to the central government and this will one day lead to the fall of Helmand,” said the public representative.
A tribal elder from Sangin, Saifuddin Sanginwal, told Pajhwok Afghan News that reinforcements of security personnel had arrived in Sangin, but they had not yet reach the frontlines.
“These reinforcements remain stranded in Haji Fateh Mohammad Pech area,” the elder said, adding that police in the besieged district had run out of food and ammunition.
“One day a policeman phoned me and said send us some bags of potatoes otherwise we can no longer fight,” said the elder, who added the district bazaar had been closed and Taliban militants had mined many areas.
The elder said any negligence in strengthening security in Helmand could prove catastrophic.
An injured Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander in Sangin, Bahauddin, told Pajhwok Afghan News many ALP personnel, who were killed and wounded during clashes with insurgents, could not be evacuated due to lack of assistance from other security forces.
“Had we timely received food and ammunition, the Taliban would not have advanced this much.”
But Helmand police chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang said security officials had committed no negligence in security maintenance in the province.
He said reinforcements had reached Sangin and had devised plans to frustrate Taliban’s designs.
The police chief said much of the conflict in Helmand was advanced by drug mafia which had the backing of several countries. But he did not name any country.
Sarjang said they had enough resources to control the situation in nearby areas, but they were trying to first improve the security situation in remote areas.
A Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi told Pajhwok Afghan News that the fighters had captured of a number of areas in Helmand over the past few months and remained in control of them.
Ahmadi claimed 26 Afghan soldiers had joined the Taliban in December in Sangin along with their weapons, a claim rejected by local officials.
Clashes between security forces and Taliban militants began two months ago in various areas, including the provincial capital, Lashkargah, and the clashes are still ongoing.
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