Fighting Persists in Laghman Despite Clearing Operations

The Defense Ministry said that Taliban attacks have been pushed back in Laghman province, but some provincial council members said that the fighting continues in the outskirts of Mehtarlam city as well as in Alisheng and Alingar districts.

Army chief Gen. Yasin Zia visited Laghman on Sunday and said that the situation was under control now that commando forces have begun operations.

Clashes meanwhile are underway in 11 provinces.

“The operations by Afghan forces led to the clearance of widespread areas on the outskirts of Mehtarlam and Alingar district” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

The Taliban captured the center of Dawlat Shah district and then attacked Alisheng and Alingar districts as well as Mehtarlam city, the center of Laghman. At one point they came close to the prison in Mehtarlam, which is almost 5 kilometers from the center of the city. Local sources said that “dozens” of outposts fell to the Taliban in the last five days.

“The situation is like the past in Laghman. There are no changes felt,” said Abdullah, a resident of Mehtarlam.

“Even outposts in Mehtarlam that are located on the way to Alisheng and Alingar districts have fallen,” said Gulzar Sangarwal, a member of Laghman’s provincial council.

Some lawmakers said that the security situation in many provinces, including Laghman, requires thorough attention by the government.

“The situation in all provinces will become like Laghman if this condition continues. There is a lack of proper leadership,” said Bismullah Afghan, a member of the defense committee of Parliament.

Baghlan province in the north is also faced heavy fighting between the government forces and the Taliban over the last week. Some areas in Baghlan-e-Markazi district that were under Hizb-e-Islami fighters’ control, as well as the Pul-e-Khumri – Kunduz highway, have fallen to the Taliban and at least 10 security force members have been either killed or wounded in the clashes in the last 24 hours, according to local sources.

“There are the most the incompetent officials in Baghlan and they have never been able to ensure a good situation in Baghlan,” said Zarif Zarif, a Baghlan resident.

“Retreating is concerning whether it is tactical or not because we should not lose more territory and hand it to the Talibs,” said Zia Yaftali, an MP from Badakhshan.

The Ministry of Defense said that at least 140 Taliban were killed and 75 more were wounded in counterattack operations by Afghan forces in Nangarhar, Zabul, Kandahar, Herat, Badghis, Balkh, Faryab, Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul, Baghlan, Kapisa and Kabul provinces in the last 24 hours.

The Taliban has rejected these figures provided by the ministry.

The recent clashes in Baghlan have displaced thousands of families in the province, according to local officials.