Taliban ‘seriously’ threaten to overrun Helmand
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): A top public representative on Monday warned if security reinforcements did not reach southern Helmand province within 48 hours, the province would fall into the hands of the Taliban.
But the Ministry of Defence strongly rejected the claim.
Provincial council chief Karim Khan Atal told reporters in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, that the current strength of security forces in Helmand could not alone deal with the conflict in the entire province.
Atal was talking after Afghan security forces suffered heavy casualties on Saturday night and Sunday night in Lashkargah and Nad Ali and Greskh districts.
“If additional security forces and air support do not reach Helmand within the next 48 hours, the province will fall into the hands of Taliban.”
He said the Taliban had launched their attacks in nearly a dozen different areas, causing heavy casualties to security forces and seriously threatening to overrun the province.
“Right now clashes on all the four sides of the city are underway. During the past 24 hours, 68 police and army personnel have reportedly suffered casualties and the Taliban have captured a number of areas,” Atal said.
He said a weak provincial government leadership and the lack of coordination among security organs had contributed to the much deteriorated security situation of the province.
Atal’s deputy Abdul Majeed Akhunzada also told Pajhwok Afghan News the security situation in Helmand had unprecedentedly worsened over the past 24 hours.
He said some 80 security personnel were either killed or wounded during the past 24 hours in clashes with armed militants.
Officials at the Emergency-run hospital in Lashkargah confirmed receiving 40 injured security personnel yesterday.
They said the number of injured security men being brought to the hospital was on the increase and they lacked space to accept more.
But Ministry of Defence spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri said the Taliban in no way could capture Helmand province.
He said ground and air operations against militants were underway in Lashkargah, Nad Ali, Greshk, Sangin, Marja and other districts. He acknowledged militant activity had lately increased in the province.
The Taliban have so far said nothing about the latest uptick in violence in the opium-rich province.
Helmand is among the most insecure provinces of Afghanistan and the Taliban are currently in control of four districts --- Nawzad, Musa Qala, Baghran and Dishu --- and some parts of Lashkargah.
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