Saturday, 23 October, 2021

Taliban fighting continues in Afghanistan

40 civilians killed in 24 hrs

KANDAHAR: Residents were urged on Tuesday to evacuate a besieged Afghan city as the army prepared a major offensive against Taliban insurgents after three days of heavy fighting, reports AFP.

The Taliban have seized control of much of rural Afghanistan since foreign forces began the last stage of their withdrawal in May, but are now focused on capturing provincial capitals, where they are meeting stiffer resistance.

Fighting is raging for Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province, with the United Nations saying at least 40 civilians were killed in the last 24 hours.

General Sami Sadat, commander of the 215 Maiwand Afghan Army Corps, told residents to get out as soon as they could. “Please leave as soon as possible so that we can start our operation,” he said in a message to the city of 200,000 delivered via the media.

“I know it is very difficult for you to leave your houses—it is hard for us too—but if you are displaced for a few days, please forgive us. We are fighting the Taliban wherever they are. We will fight them... we will not leave a single Taliban alive,” he said.

Officials said earlier that insurgents had seized more than a dozen local radio and TV stations in Lashkar Gah, leaving only one pro-Taliban channel broadcasting Islamic programming.