Taliban militants overrun district in south Afghanistan
Taliban militants have taken control of a district in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, local authorities say.
Mohammad Karim Atal, the head of the provincial council, said the militants overran the Khanashin district on Wednesday evening following heavy clashes with Afghan security forces.
Atal said militants torched a government building, adding 14 police officers were killed and another 11, including district police chief Ruaf Khan, injured in the clashes.
The official said local authorities had repeatedly warned both Afghan ministries of defense and interior about the possible fall of the district to Taliban.
Omar Zwak, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said a fierce exchange of gunfire was going on between Afghan government forces and Taliban in the Khanashin district, but did not confirm its fall.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said militants had completely established control over Khanashin.
Separately, Afghan Interior Ministry said security forces backed by army troopers had killed more than 50 Taliban militants and wounded over a dozen others in a series of clean-up operations across the country over the past 24 hours.
In a statement on Thursday, the ministry said 51 militants were killed and 16 others injured in the provinces of Faryab, Ghazni, Helmand, Kabul, Kunar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Samangan, Sar-e Pol and Takhar.
The statement said a Taliban member was also arrested during the operations, without providing any information about potential casualties among Afghan soldiers and security forces.
Government forces also confiscated light and heavy weaponry and defused several rounds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity 14 years after the United States and its allies attacked the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.