United States airstrike kills 16 Afghan police in Helmand

United States airstrike kills 16 Afghan police in Helmand

Taliban insurgents have kidnapped at least 60 people from a village in southern Kandahar, Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Saturday, with seven of those prisoners reportedly killed.

The provincial police chief Mohammad Mustafa Moseni said the militants launched four assaults on the district headquarters early today and police had no choice but to retreat.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a US watchdog, estimates that the Taliban controls 11 districts and has influence over 34 of Afghanistan's 407 districts (11 percent), while the Afghan government controls 97 districts and influences 146 (60 percent).

"We requested more ground troops and air forces; hopefully our demands have been accepted", Tolo News quoted Abdul Karim Yurish, spokesman for Faryab police headquarters, as saying.

Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, played down the significance of the takeovers.

The officials in the districts say they have appealed for reinforcements and for special forces in order to drive back the insurgents.

In light of the poppy season drawing to a close, Waziri said he expected to see an uptick in Taliban activity.

"Normally, every year at this time, the fighting starts to increase", he said.

Again, the fatal incident, which illustrates the deterioration of the situation, which happened on the highway connecting Faryab, the capital of Farah province (north-west), to the large western city of Herat, the taliban had temporarily blocked: they have forced the bus to stop and the sixteen passengers to get off.

Helmand, a sprawling province in southern Afghanistan, has been the scene of much combat in the long Afghan war.

The Taliban had held Nawa for nine months.

After capturing Taywara district Taliban fighters stalked the corridors of the only hospital looking for wounded Afghan National Security personnel to kill, said provincial public health department director Ghulam Nabi Yaghana.

At the start of this year's fighting season, the Afghan government controlled less than 60 percent of the country, according to USA military assessments.

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