Clashes erupt in southern Afghanistan city of Helmand


KABUL: Attack resulted in triggering clashes as the insurgents step up offensives around the country. The Taliban seized some police checkpoints in Babaji, a suburb of Lashkar Gah city, but the interior ministry said commando units mounted a swift counter-attack, flushing out the militants from the area. "The situation is under control. The enemy have been pushed back, 25 of their fighters have been killed," ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP. Afghan forces were also battling the Taliban in Nad Ali and Greshk districts close to Lashkar Gah, where insurgents captured a number of security posts, provincial governor Mirza Khan Rahimi said. The fighting, which sent scores of families fleeing to neighbouring provinces, has also threatened the highway which links the major southern city of Kandahar with Herat and Kabul. The violence in Helmand comes precisely a year after the Camp Bastion base, a hub for British forces, was turned over to local troops. As many as two dozen Afghan policemen including the district police chief were feared to be killed or captured after the Taliban on the weekend overran the district centre close to the border with Turkmenistan, official said. In the wake of recent Taliban gains, US president Barak Obama last week announced a major policy reversal on Afghanistan that will see 5,500 US troops remain in the country when he leaves office in January 2017 despite his earlier pledge to pull out next year.