Intense Clashes Witnessed In Zabul, Helmand, Herat, Baghlan

Kabul: Several provinces in Afghanistan are witnessing intense clashes between government forces and the Taliban, including Zabul, Helmand, Herat and Baghlan.

Following the withdrawal of security forces, after heavy fighting with Taliban fighters, from the police headquarters and the Shinkai district building in Zabul, the insurgents took over the buildings, said Asadullah Kakar, a member of the Zabul Provincial Council, on Friday.

According to him, five security forces were killed in these battles. A large army base in Shahjoy district has also been evacuated by security forces. He added that the army forces have transferred all the equipment and tools of this camp. According to the member of the provincial council, fierce fighting has taken place between the soldiers stationed in this outpost and the Taliban fighters over the past few days.

Meanwhile, Gul-Islam Sial, spokesperson for the Zabul governor, said that the Shinkai district was under government control. The Ministry of Defense has not commented on the news. The ministry, however, said that 15 Taliban members were killed in an airstrike in Zabul’s Shahjoy district.

Meanwhile in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, the 215th Maiwand Corps said that civilians were also killed during ground and air operations against Taliban fighters during the “looting” of military equipment.

According to the 215th Maiwand Corps, army forces bombed “Taliban insurgents” who had entered a base to “loot” military equipment. The 215th Pamir Corps said 20 Taliban members were killed and eight others were wounded in the airstrikes.

“Unfortunately, a number of civilians who entered the military base with the Taliban to loot military equipment were also killed and wounded during the strikes,” the statement said. The 215th Maiwand Corps has not announced the exact number of dead and wounded civilians.

The corps has called on residents of the southwestern part of the country not to be deceived by the Taliban and not to enter military bases and battlefields to cooperate with the group. The Helmand security officials also said on Friday that the provincial capital Lashkargah city, Nawa districts, and parts of the province that collapsed to the Taliban last month, have been cleared of the Taliban presence.

In Baghlan province, at least eight security force members, including police chiefs for two districts, were killed in a Taliban attack on Julga district on Friday night, a security official who wished not to be named said.

Taliban attack started after midnight on Friday from different directions towards the center of Julga district in the northern province of Baghlan and continued until Saturday morning, the official said. Gulbuddin, the police chief for Julga district, and Lotful-ul-Haq, the police chief for Burka district of Baghlan, were killed in the clashes. Lotful-ul-Haq, the police chief for Burka, went to Julga district to help security forces in the fight against the Taliban, the official said. The official said that the district will fall to Taliban if reinforcements were not sent.

Meanwhile, in Herat, officials said that Taliban insurgents have attacked three districts and clashed with Afghan forces. The clashes resulted in killing of the head of the Farsi district police chief, one of his bodyguards and 21 Taliban insurgents.

Herat Governor Abdul Wahid Qatali said the Taliban attacked Farsi, Golran and Adraskan districts on Thursday night. According to him, five security forces were wounded in Farsi district and two security forces in Golran district. The Taliban have not yet commented on the matter.
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However, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, claimed on his Twitter account that the Taliban had captured a checkpoint of Afghan forces in Kunar province Thursday night, killing five Afghan soldiers. Afghan officials have not yet confirmed or denied the Taliban’s claim.

In other news, Sayed Meraj Sadat, the new chief of the Herat police, was introduced on Friday night. His introduction ceremony was unusually held at night without the presence of reporters.

The Herat governor’s media office said in a press release that Sadat had been introduced to police personnel by Herat governor Sayyed Wahid Qatali. According to the statement, the new Herat police chief assured that he would work to eliminate crime and ensure security.

Gholam-Sanayee Stanikzai was the former Herat police chief. The new Herat police chief is taking office as the recent escalation of assassinations and kidnappings in the city of Herat and the escalation of fighting in the districts have drawn much criticism, and the deputy head of the Herat Ulema Council was recently assassinated by gunmen.

Meanwhile, army spokesperson in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said that a total of 18 Taliban militants including their commander Qari Mubin have been confirmed dead as fighting planes struck Taliban hideouts in Aqcha district of the northern Jawzjan province on Thursday afternoon.

Qari Mubin along with 17 of his armed men were killed and seven others were injured, the official said.

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