Heavy clashes happened on the outskirts of Lashkargah city in the southern province of Helmand on Sunday, resulting in the fall of city police district 4 (PD4) to the Taliban, according a member of the provincial council. Local officials, however, said it was a tactical retreat.
The clashes are ongoing, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the Helmand governor, who spoke to TOLOnews on Sunday evening.
the head of of Helmand's provincial council, Ataullah Afghan, said that some parts of the Highway 601—that connects Lashkargah city with Kandahar province—also fell to militants. The highway has remained closed to traffic for the last three days following clashes, according to officials and TOLOnews’ Abdullah Hamim.
Other areas that have witnessed clashes between the Afghan forces and the Taliban over the last three days include the Chah Anjir area of Lashkargah and Nad Ali district.
“Helmand's security situation is recently very concerning. The 601 Highway is closed to traffic and people are concerned,” said Abdulhaq Zwakman, a civil society activist in Helmand.
“As you know, the Lashkargah security belts were attacked recently. We have shared this issue with the central government, but no measure was taken,” said Abdul Wali Patyal, a civil society activist in Helmand.
Analysts said the cental government is not paying attention to the security situation in Helmand.
“There are conflicts in Helmand. The conflicts have increased amid peace negotiations. The Taliban has destroyed bridges on 601 Highway. We need support from the central government,” said Bashir Ahmad Shakir, an analyst.
Helmand governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak said the security forces made a tactical retreat and that they will soon bring the situation under control.
“The situation in Nawa, Chah Anjir, Nad Ali, and Chah Anjir are somehow under control. Security forces are busy in maintaining the areas and their operations,” Zwak said.
This comes amid the ongoing peace negotiations in Doha. Violence has increased recently amid calls by Afghan and foreign officials for an immediate reduction in violence in the country.