Afghan military forces have carried out an attack on a group of Taliban militants in Helmand, killing scores of them and arresting the group’s local governor days after an escalation of fighting in the southern province.
In an operation, involving air force commandos, “71 Taliban” militants were killed in Nawa and Nahr-e-Saraj districts on Monday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI), Tariq Arian told TOLO News.
Arian did not provide information on possible Afghan casualties.
Security forces also managed to detain the Taliban's deputy governor for Helmand, Mawlawi Ghafoor, according to Helmand governor's office.
The fighting also resulted in the destruction of a power substation, leaving Kandahar and Helmand with power cuts.
Heavy clashes erupted between Afghan security forces and the Taliban over the weekend on the outskirts of Lashkargah, prompting local residents of the Nad-e-Ali District to seek refuge in the provincial capital Lashkargah.
The fighting resulted in the fall of city police district to the militants.
Some parts of a highway that connects Lashkargah to Kandahar Province also fell to the Taliban, according to the head of Helmand's provincial council, Ataullah Afghan.
The highway has remained closed to traffic since then.
At least eleven security forces were killed in the fighting on Thursday.
The bloodshed comes as the two sides are engaged in intra-Afghan talks in the Qatari capital Doha in an effort to end nearly two decades of war in the country.
The first round of talks began last month in the wake of a deal reached between the United States and the Taliban earlier this year in Doha.
Under the deal, Washington promised to pull out all its troops by mid-2021 in return for the Taliban to stop their attacks on US-led occupation foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government was a party neither to the negotiations nor to the deal, but it has been acting in accordance with its terms, including by agreeing to free the Taliban prisoners.
Official data, however, shows that Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since the militant group signed a deal with Washington.
The US invaded Afghanistan and toppled a Taliban regime in 2001.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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