Members of the Taliban militant group have according to some reports taken control of a district in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand.
A provincial police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Taliban militants overran Sangin district on Sunday afternoon, and captured the government building as well as the police headquarters there, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.
The source added that nearly 150 policemen have withdrawn from the two buildings and moved to a nearby area. The Taliban militants have reportedly surrounded the security personnel, and are tightening the noose around them. The official further warned that the besieged policemen would be killed unless urgent air support is dispatched to the area.
Afghan security forces reportedly retreated because they had been under siege in the district center for several days without food or ammunition supplies.
Afghan lawmaker Hashim Alokozai said the Taliban had taken control of all police and military installations in Sangin district.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the militants had captured Sangin’s administrative center and besieged scores of Afghan security forces.
Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry spokesman General Dawlat Waziri, however, has purportedly rejected reports that Sangin district had slipped into the Taliban’s hands, saying that fierce clashes are ongoing between government forces and the militants in the area.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, Afghan army troopers backed by security forces have killed more than 60 Taliban militants and wounded nearly three dozen others in a series of clean-up operations.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that 15 militants were killed and seven others injured in a series of operations carried out in the provinces of Balkh, Faryab, Helmand and Kunar.
The statement added that two Taliban members were also arrested during the offensives, without providing any information about potential casualties among soldiers and security forces.
Afghan soldiers 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.