Clashes between government forces and the Taliban intensified in the city of Lashkargah in southern Helmand province, leaving some streets of the city empty of residents and adding to concerns about rising threats to major capitals.
The frontline was in District 1 where the US conducted an airstrike on Monday morning that left seven Taliban killed, according to the Defense Ministry.
Lawmakers from Helmand said that the prison and the police headquarters are under siege and that clashes in District 1 are focused on capturing the district governor’s compound.
Nine bodies and eight wounded were taken to the Emergency Hospital in Lashkargah on Monday, officials said.
“Fighting is underway in Lashkargah. The security forces are not in a good condition there,” said Mohammad Jami, a civil society activist from Helmand.
“Recently people’s homes were bombarded. The Taliban is hiding in people’s houses and using them as shields,” said Akhtar Mohammad Badi Zai, a civil society activist from Helmand.
The Taliban has taken over 12 districts in Helmand except for Kajaki district and has captured nine out of 10 districts in the city of Lashkargah, security sources said.
Sources said all media broadcasts halted in Helmand as clashes intensified in Lashkargah.
The national TV office in Helmand in Lashkargah's District 1 was taken over by the Taliban on Monday morning, sources said, who also said that employees of the media outlet have not been in the office for the last two days.
Sources said that Matiullah Popal, the acting police chief for Nawzad district in Helmand, was killed while fighting the Taliban in the city of Lashkargah on Monday morning.
“We will soon witness the fall of Lashkargah if the situation continues,” said Shogufa Nawrozi, an MP from Helmand.
The Defense Ministry said the Taliban has sustained heavy casualties in the Helmand clashes.
“Firmly support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces as well as the Republic. Besides this, make efforts for mobilizing the people,” President Ghani told lawmakers at a special session on Monday.
Also on Monday, five security force members were also killed in a Taliban attack on their outposts in the west of Charikar City in the central province of Parwan.
And there was an incident in Baghlan province: “There was a misunderstanding between the police and the public uprising forces and three people were killed and three were wounded,” said Ahmad Jawed Basharat, a spokesman for the Baghlan police.
Government figures indicate that 455 Taliban were killed in Afghan forces operations in the past 24 hours and 232 more were wounded. The Taliban has denied this claim.