The Afghan army yesterday regained control of the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province that is known for its cultivation of opium in southern Afghanistan, a day after the Taliban launched a new offensive in an area on the Pakistani border. At least fifteen people, including six policemen, were killed in the sudden attack launched by the Taliban on Monday, and this is the latest event in a long series of acts of violence in this province where the situation is still fragile.
The commander of military operations in Helmand Abdul Jabbar Kahraman told AFP that the Afghan army deployed “200 members of the special forces and 400 troops backed by artillery” to defeat the rebels. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani personally appointed the former colonel to lead the operation to recapture the city. It seems that the government, which just finished clearing the centre of Kunduz, the commercial capital of the north-east of the country that was besieged by the Taliban a week ago, has redirected its forces toward Helmand.
A spokesman for the province Omar Zawwak told AFP that these reinforcements “were sent from Kabul and neighbouring provinces to launch the operation to cleanse Lashkar Gah”. He expressed hope that “the entire city would be rid of the Taliban soon”. On his part, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defence Mohammad Radmanesh confirmed that “the situation in Lashkar Gah is normal this morning. We have expelled the enemy from the city”. He added: “We have enough forces deployed on the ground as well as the support of our air force and NATO forces deployed to support Afghan forces”.