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Civilians flee as clashes erupt in southern Afghan City

KANDAHAR :  On Wednesday,  Panicked residents fed from the opium rich southern Afghan province of Helmand, after the Afghan Taliban Stormed an outlying neighborhood, as the insurgents step up offensives around the country the clashes triggered.

Late Tuesday, the Taliban seized some police checkpoints in Babaji, a suburb of Lashkar Gah city but the interior ministry said, “Commando units mounted a swift counter-attack, flushing out the militants from the area.”

Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP that, “The situation is under control. The enemy have been pushed back, 25 of their fighters have been killed.”

Provincial governor Mirza Khan Rahimi said, “Afghan forces were also battling the Taliban in Nad Ali and Greshk districts close to Lashkar Gah, where insurgents captured a number of security posts.”

The fighting and violence which has sent scores of families fleeing to the neighboring provinces, which has also threatened the highway which links the major southern city of Kandahar with the Kabul and Heart.

In Helmand, the violence comes precisely a year after the Camp Bastion base was turned over to local troops a hub for the British forces.

The province is also one of the world’s biggest centers of opium cultivation, a Taliban hotbed where United States (US) and British troops were involved in years of fierce fighting.

A development is seen as a key test for the overstretched Afghan forces, Emboldened by their brief capture of northern Kunduz city late last month, the insurgents have launched multiple offensives around the country.

In northern Faryab province, the Afghan troops were gearing up for a major offensive to retake the district of Ghormach.

The official said that, “As many as two dozen Afghan policemen including the district police chief were feared to be killed or captured after the Taliban on the weekend overran the district centre close to the border with Turkmenistan.”

Whereas on the other hand, Sediqqi declined to give any details about the offensive.

Zabiullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman claimed on his twitter accounts that, “insurgents had detained the district police chief.”

Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghanistan’s first vice president, a former warlord with no formal position in the military, who arrived in the northern Afghanistan on Tuesday to oversee the operations of anti Taliban.

United States president Barack Obama last week announced, “a major policy reversal on Afghanistan that will see 5,500 US troops remain in the country when he leaves office in January 2017 despite his earlier pledge to pull out next year,” in the wake of recent Taliban gains.

One of the residents of the area Ajmal Kakar said that, “Security forces are asking people to come back, but the people are still afraid, they are scared that the situation might change again.”