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126 killed as Afghan forces retake Helmand areas

Fresh troops reaching Nad Ali, Greshk and Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, have started their operations against militants, an official said on Wednesday.

The reinforcements arrive a day after Taliban militants captured Baba Jee area in the limits of fourth security district of Lashkargah and some areas in nearby Nad Ali district.

The governor’s spokesman, Omar Zwak said the reinforcements had arrived in Helmand and had started their operations against Taliban militants in some areas.

He said areas which fell to the rebels yesterday had been recaptured by security forces. Zwak said the Taliban could not enter Lashkargah because enough security forces existed in Helmand.

Helmand police spokesman Mahmood Ashna told Pajhwok Afghan News that security forces on Wednesday launched operations against militants in Lashkargah’s Baba Jee area, Nad Ali’s Chah Injeer and Greshk’s Malgir area.

Ashana added that the ground forces had air support and they had advanced eight kilometers, recapturing all areas in the jurisdiction of the fourth security district of the provincial capital.

Without giving exact figures, the official said Taliban militants had suffered more casualties than security forces.

But 215 Maiwand Military Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammad Rassoul Zazi told Pajhwok Afghan News five commanders were among 66 Taliban militants killed during the operations since last night. The dead militants included nearly a dozen Pakistanis, he added.

But a security official said more than 40 policemen and about 20 Afghan National Army soldiers had been killed.

The residents of Nad Ali district said a number of families had fled fearing Taliban’s wrath.

The Taliban also confirmed clashes with security forces in Helmand, with the group spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, saying: “If civil and military officials surrender to us during the capture of Lashkargah, we will forgive them.”

Helmand is one of Afghanistan’s volatile provinces. Currently Taliban are in control of the entire Nawzad district and partially control Musa Qala. (PAN)

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