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Army chief visits Kandahar amid heavy fighting

AT News

KABUL: Afghanistan Army’s chief of staff made a surprise visit to southern Kandahar where he met local security officials amid worsening security situation in the province.

Heavy fighting has erupted in Kandahar province after the Taliban staged attacks on several flanks in the province. The clashes started when the Taliban attacked security outposts in Zherai and Arghandab districts late last week.

Chief of army staff, Gen. Yasin Zia, visited Arghandab and Panjwai districts, which are hit by clashes, and is expected to lead the fighting against insurgents there, said spokesman for Ministry of Defense, Fawad Aman.

Aman said heavy casualties have been inflicted to the Taliban in air and ground operations. Army airstrikes hammered Taliban hideouts in Panjwai district, killing a dozen insurgent.

Security forces also staged a brave counterattack after an intensified attack on Arghandab district, killing 20 rebels, he said.

Kandahar’s neighboring province, Helmand, is also witnessing clashes between government forces and the Taliban over the last few weeks. The clashes in Helmand are underway in Nad Ali and Nawa districts as well as the outskirts of Lashkargah city.

Security officials said the Kandahar-Helmand highway will be cleared of the Taliban in near future, but the group has attacked Zherai and Arghandab districts that are close to highway.

This is as heavy clashes have erupted in 20 provinces across Afghanistan. But, security forces have inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban, killing 78 of them and injuring 42 in ongoing fighting across the country, said Aman.

Violence has escalated in Afghanistan amid fledgling peace negotiations taking place between the Afghan government and the Taliban, although with slender success thus far.

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