Taliban Nears Helmand Capital, Overruns Checkpoints

Officials Warn of 'Disaster' as Police Lose Ground

by Jason Ditz, May 10, 2016

Provincial security officials in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province warn that the situation in the capital city of Lashkar Gah is quickly becoming critical, as a new Taliban offensive quickly overruns police checkpoints and has in short order brought them to the outskirts of the city.

Over the weekend, the Taliban began pushing against the city’s defenses, and while at the time officials were claiming huge numbers of Taliban killed and that the situation was well in hand, today they reported at least 15 policemen killed, no word of Taliban losses, and multiple checkpoints overrun.

The Taliban has been gaining ground in Helmand since the winter, and Afghan forces have basically ceded several districts to them, withdrawing security forces on the grounds that they don’t have enough troops to defend everything.

Letting the provincial capital fall, however, would be a major admission of defeat Local officials are warning they need reinforcements, and soon, though in some previous cases the Afghan government has simply let cities fall and then tried to retake them later with reinforcements.

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