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Helmand’s Garmsir district falls to Taliban

AT-KABUL: The Taliban insurgents have captured the Garmsir district of southern Helmand province on Friday afternoon, a reliable source who wished to remain anonymous said.

The source told Pajhwok Afghan News, a local news agency, that the district was captured by the militant group.

Provincial police chief said that security forces retreated and vacated the district center and police headquarters.

Police Chief, Aqa Noor Kintoz, said that security forces vacated the government facilities in the district as a ‘military tactic’. Security forces are committed to drive the Taliban away from the district and take back the control of Garmsir, he said.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Sediq Sediqi, in a press conference in Kabul said the Taliban were pushed back and suffered heavy casualties in Nawa, Garamsir, Nadali, Marjah and Nahr-e-Saraj districts of the province since last night, after “hundreds of commandos and special forces” arrived into the province.

“Their [Taliban] efforts to capture Lashkargah and districts failed. The threats that had been posed to Lashkargah were neutralized,” Sediqi said, adding there are now “enough troops” around and in outskirts of Lashkargah and “there is no need to be worried and concerned about fall of Lashkargah” the spokesman said. “Security in the areas and security belt near and around Lashkargah will be strengthened further,” he said.

The concerns that the strategic city may fall to Taliban rose after the insurgent group over the past one week captured several areas at least in three districts around the capital city and almost moved the frontlines to the outskirt of Lashkargah.

But Sediqi insisted that after arrival of the fresh troops, government forces besides preventing the advancement of Taliban have also pushed back the militants on several frontlines.

Chanjir, an area only 12km from Lashkargah, is cleared, Taliban are pushed back in Nawa, Garamsir, and Nadali, the spokesman claimed adding, “Our forces with their full might will not let Taliban to succeed and achieve their goals.”

“The operations and raids by special forces and commandos against Taliban will be increased in Helmand, particularly in, Nawa, Nadali and Garamsir,” he said.

In reaction to the concerns raised by civil society members in Kabul and Provincial Council members in Helmand that the city may fall due to inattention of the government, Sediqi said: “We will not forget Helmand, most of our troops have been sent to Helmand, and we will be using all our resources to defeat the enemy there.”

According to Sediqi at least 76 Taliban fighters were killed since last night in three districts, without to give the number of casualties among Afghan troops. But Agha Muhammad Takra, governor of Nawa district, which was about to fall last night to Taliban said at least three policemen were killed and ten were injured only in this district in last night’s battle, until Taliban were pushed back in the morning by special forces.

The main highway between Lashkargah and Kandahar have been closed since past six days due to the Taliban attacks, but Sediqi said security forces were establishing check posts and eliminating the threats and “patrolling and will continue clearance operation on highway of Lashkargah and on the roads to the districts.”

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