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Helmand under siege; Govt leaves people on mercy of God

“Provincial officials do not report about ground realities. Central government is blind and kept in dark. Lashkargah is on the verge of collapse,” PC member laments.

AT News Report

KABUL: In the past three days, conflicting reports have emerged from Helmand about security situation as the Taliban tighten grip over Nad Ali, Nahr Saraj, Greshk and Marja districts and planning to attack Lashkargah, provincial capital.

Public representatives in the province say that the Taliban are 10 kilometers away from the major governmental buildings in Lashkargah and the security forces suffered heavy casualties. However, the defense ministry has rejected the reports claiming that security forces have retaken some areas from militants that were under control of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and inflicted casualties on the anti-state elements.

Amid the controversy, member of the Helmand provincial council, Attaullah Afghan, said that intense fight between the government forces and insurgents is underway in several areas of the province.

“Security situation in Nad Ali, Greshk, Marja, and Nahr Saraj districts has become worst from bad. Fierce clashes are underway in Greshk district. Around 60 policemen were killed in the line of duty and 48 others were injured in last three days. Eight check-posts were seized by the Taliban in Greshk district. Similarly, three to four check-posts were seized in Nahr-e Saraj, along the main highway which connects Kandahar to Lashkargah. Shawal area in Nad Ali [17km from Lashkargah] is under total control of the Taliban,” he sketched the deteriorating law and order condition in the province.

Providing eyewitness accounts from the scene, the PC member said that the insurgents have encamped near Lashkargah, capital of Helmand province. Taliban drew near Sur Goddar (red stream). These areas fall under jurisdiction of Lashkargah Municipality and are around 10km far from the police headquarters. Babaji area of Lashkargah is under control of the Taliban.

“Fighting between the Afghan security forces and militants is taking place around six kilometers away from the police training academy [in Lashkargah]. People do not know that when the highway which connects Kandahar to Herat and passes through Helmand province will be closed for traffic. Security forces are trying to control the highway. Most of people are afraid of using the road because heavy fighting is underway along the highway. People are afraid. They fear fall of Lashkargah to the Taliban. The highway serves as lifeline for the province,” he explained.

Criticizing the local security officials for keeping the central government in dark, Afghan said that authorities in Helmand were not giving actual reports to the interior ministry and other relevant security organs. “Local authorities say that situation is better, but how can it be better when the Taliban took control nearly 15 check-posts and are trying to seize control of the center. Local officials do not tell the central government about areas that are under control of the Taliban and the government,” he said.

 

He further said that the Taliban laid siege to Marzo area in Nad Ali district. Several people working in police force were under siege, adding that locals took up weapons to rescue the injured relatives from the insurgents and take the dead bodies for burial.

“No one trusts the government that it would come for the rescue of people. People are very disappointed. The president is launching a project to renovate Darul Aman Palace but is unaware of what is happening in Helmand. Chief Executive is discussing reforms in the election commission but is not taking interest in Helmand. Interior Minister is involved in reshuffle of top officials and not paying heed to what is going on in Helmand. The defense minister is a general. Thus, he shall go to the frontline in Helmand. Neither the security agreement with the United States nor the peace process had given any relief to the residents of Helmand. People are tired and disappointed. Every process is started at the cost of our lives. People in Helmand had seen only pain and grief. Hundreds of women are widows. To whom we shall convey our grievances. Nobody is ready to hear our ordeal,” the PC member lamented.

He continued, “Everyone says that he is concerned about growing insecurity in Helmand. I don’t know to what extent they are concerned because situation has become worst and getting out of control with every passing day.”

He said that Safar Muhammad Aka, who was the first person to stand against the insurgents, was killed brutally the other day by the Taliban. “Where is the government? Is it the government which left us on the mercy of the Taliban?” he questioned.

When asked that have they contacted the provincial and central security officials about the fragile security situation, the PC member said that district community leaders called on the provincial governor and asked him to allow the Red Cross to take the dead bodies from the insurgents. “The only thing that we want now is that the Red Cross shall bring us dead bodies of our relatives. It will be a day of Eid for us because we have lost all hope. We don’t have good economy, life, education, security and jobs. We only have a graveyard to bury our killed relatives, grieve for the dead and pray for them,” he said.

He said that it would be an honor for him if hanged by the president and other authorities because the central government has turned a blind eye to rapidly deteriorating security situation in Helmand, and abandoned people in the province.

Criticizing the lawmakers, he said that the chairman of Meshrano Jirga and Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga are not fulfilling their duties. Afghan urged the legislators to take notice of the issue.

Deputy Spokesman to the Defense Ministry, Muhammad Radmanish, said that some people were engaged in propaganda and providing misinformation. He said that the security forces have suffered casualties but far less than reported by media. He said that three soldiers were killed and four others injured in the battle against the Taliban.

He said that the Afghan National Army (ANA) had lost no check-post to the Taliban. The deputy spokesman claimed that ANA had inflicted casualties on the militants in different areas of the province.

However, he denied commenting on casualties suffered by the local and national police.

Afghanistan Times repeatedly tried to contact the spokesman for Ministry of Interior on his cell phone for his comments about the casualties suffered by police force in the past three days in Helmand but he did not make himself available till filing of this report.

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