By Mansoor Faizy
KABUL: Two dozen of the Taliban insurgents were killed in an airstrike carried in Nad Ali district of Helmand province, a security official said on Friday.
“An airstrike yesterday (Thursday) targeted Taliban’s hideouts in Chah Injeer areas of Nad Ali district, in which 24 Taliban insurgents were killed and four others wounded,” Spokesman for Defense Ministry Dawlat Waziri told Afghanistan Times.
However, the Taliban claimed that the airstrike targeted a prison where the militant group kept 22 policemen and soldiers as hostages.
The militant organization said on Twitter that including these 22 soldiers and police officers, three of their fighters, who were in charges of the prison, were also killed in a US drone airstrike.
“We are about to set them [soldiers and policemen] free today,” Taliban said.
But, Waziri said: “It was not a prison. It was a safe hideout of the Taliban insurgents. Taliban were roaming there freely when targeted. It is totally propaganda that the airstrike targeted a prison, killing some Afghan security personnel, held as hostages by the Taliban there.”
He strongly rejected this and termed it as “propaganda by the enemies”.
It is worth mentioning that recently, the Taliban militants have launched a series of attacks to capture strategic districts and provinces. Intense fighting is underway between the insurgents and Afghan security forces in Helmand and Kunduz provinces. The Taliban seemed to be in dominant position in these provinces as the militant group still controls over 80 percent of the two provinces.
Despite the ongoing fight between security forces and the militants, there is no major concern regarding the collapse of the Lashkargah city, the provincial capital of the Helmand province, to the Taliban, a provincial official said.
On Wednesday, an official at the Information Directorate, Fareed Ahmad, told Afghanistan Times that after deployment of around 100 US troops in the province, progress have been made in fight against Taliban insurgents.
He said the security forces made progress in Lashkargah’s Baba Jee area, and Nad Ali’s Chah Injeer areas after arrival of the US troops.
“Security situation of the province is improving, and we have planned to carry operation in other areas to restore writ of the government there. All concerns regarding fall of Lashkargah are removed. There is no big threat to the district,” he said.
This week, an American service member died as a result of wounds sustained during operations near Lashkargah on Tuesday. Another US soldier was injured in the battle. Six Afghan soldiers were also wounded.
The service member was killed conducting training, advising, and assisting activities with Afghan counterparts under NATO authorities when they hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during patrol.