Commando, strike forces reach Lashkargah: Hayat
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Commando and strike forces have reached Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, the governor said on Tuesday, claiming nearly 200 militants suffered casualties during the past three days.
Hayatullah Hayat told a security meeting here that security forces had also suffered casualties in various parts of the province during the past 72 hours.
During the period, he said, 118 militants were killed and 73 others wounded and 11 more captured alive.
He said fresh forces had arrived to recapture areas lost to the insurgents and a massive ground and air operation would be launched if necessary.
He said security officials who had committed negligence leading to casualties among security forces and abandoning check posts would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
He said security forces had suffered casualties during three days of clashes with insurgents, but he did not reveal exact figures.
But yesterday, a senior security official said 58 security personnel had been killed, mostly police, during the clashes with Taliban militants.
Governor Hayat rejected speculations that Lashkargah could fall into the hands of insurgents, saying commando and strike forces from southern Kandahar province had reached the provincial capital and elaborate security measures had been put in place.
Deputy commander of the 215 Maiwand Military Corps in Helmand, Gen. Faiz Mohammad, said the corps commandos and other forces were engaged in operations and the armed opponents had been subdued and prevented from advance.
He said security forces had adopted aggressive mode and that Helmand would not fall and they were ready to drive militants from the province.
Brig. Gen. Asmatullah Dawlatzai, the 505 Bost Zone police commander in Helmand, said they had dispatched reinforcements to all areas where clashes had been ongoing for the past three days to prevent the insurgents from advancing.
But the provincial council chief, Karim Atal, and the council’s security committee chief, Bashir Shakir, said the situation was not satisfactory.
Atal defended his yesterday’s remarks that Helmand was under threat of falling, but said fresh forces had arrived in response to their request and the situation could improve.
The two accused military forces of not fully benefitting from the available resources and as a result, security forces and civilians suffered casualties and areas were lost to the insurgents.
The clashes that broke out three days ago in Greshk and Nad Ali districts had left 94 security personnel dead and wounded, with the rebels capturing some posts.
Taliban’s spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said the fighters had launched attacks in various parts of Helmand and had so far killed dozens of government forces.
He claimed the fighters had confiscated a huge quantity of military gear. He rejected casualties to the rebel fighters as claimed by local officials.
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