Conflicts & War

Afghan forces push Taliban back as fighting enters 3rd day in Helmand

Kabul, Oct 13 (efe-epa).- Afghan security forces have pushed the Taliban back from several areas captured by the militants over the last two days in southwestern Helmand province, officials said on Tuesday.

The fighting began on Sunday on the outskirts of Lashkargah and its surrounding districts and continues.

“Our defense and security forces are moving forward as Taliban’s attack on Lashkargah city is defeated and pushed back in some areas,” Helmand governor’s spokesperson Omar Zwak told EFE.

“Taliban’s advancement has been contained nearly in all areas (…) we are trying to recapture the remaining areas which were lost to the Taliban in past days,” Zwak added.

At least 10 check posts of the security forces have been seized back from the Taliban in Police District 4 in Lashkargah, and Nadali and Nahr-e-Saraj districts.

At least 23 Taliban fighters have been killed in the counter-attack since last night, and another 80 were killed on Sunday and Monday, while a number of their cars have been destroyed, according to the spokesperson.

He added that casualties among the security forces and civilians were still not known.

The three days fighting has so far caused the displacement of more than 20,000 people from the outskirts of Lashkargah to the heart of the city.

Most of the telecommunication services and power supply has been disrupted in the city as the Taliban cut off the transmission lines by destroying a power station outside Lashkargah.

Helmand’s Electricity department said in a statement that two technical workers and 19 security guards at the power station had been abducted by the insurgents.

This is the first large scale attack by the Taliban against a provincial capital in the country since the group signed a peace agreement with the US in the Qatari capital of Doha on Feb.29.

In the agreement, the Taliban promised to reduce the violence and not to attack any urban area in the agreement with the US.

The agreement laid the groundwork for the intra-Afghan talks between the government and Taliban representatives, which are currently underway in Doha.

The parties in the intra-Afgan talks, which have been going on for the last one month, have so far failed to reach an agreement on the rules and regulations necessary for the main phase of the negotiations.

Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi, in a press conference on Monday, strongly condemned these attacks and said they undermined the peace process underway.

He added that it showed that the Taliban “have no commitment to peace” and if this continued, it would shatter people’s hopes for an end to nearly two decades of war in the country. EFE-EPA


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