The fighting continues in the troubled southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Today, CENTCOM reports two separate engagements in Helmand and Kandahar. The CENTCOM press release for the Helmand incident states U.S. air assets were used to strike at a team of four Taliban in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province. Two Hellfire missiles and one bomb were used in the attack. Three Taliban are reported killed in the attack and one escaped. The Taliban were “responsible for launching numerous attacks against Government of Afghanistan and Coalition forces including financing terrorist activities.”
In Kandahar, Afghan police “fought a significant Taliban force in Mianashin, near Kandahar City.” Three Taliban were killed and seven wounded, while one Afghan police officer was killed and six were wounded. The interesting part about this engagement is “Coalition forces were aware of the incident but did not take part.” The Afghan police fought their own batle against the Taliban in their former stronghold.
Over the course of the last few months the province of Helmand has been the scene of heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan and Coalition forces. The problems began in early February, when intelligence reports indicated the Taliban was massing forces to strike at the British contingent deploying to the region. Days later, Afghan Army and police units, along with the U.S. military engaged Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand. The fighting resulted in a chase of Taliban forces from Helmand into Kandahar, and three Taliban commanders and over thirty two Taliban are known to have been killed. In mid-March, During an attack on an Afghan police post in Helmand province, the Taliban were beaten back, with two confirmed killed and “bloodstains on the ground that showed that a number of wounded Taliban had escaped the area.” Taliban forces attacked a police post, and the the Taliban were beaten back, with two confirmed killed and “bloodstains on the ground that showed that a number of wounded Taliban had escaped the area.” Towards the end of March, seven Taliban and one U.S. solder were killed during a strike against a unit of twenty Taliban. Helicopter gunships and air strikes were called in for support during this battle. A separate Taliban assault was smashed and thirty-two Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting.
Kandahar has also been a focal point of the Taliban’s springtime offensive. The Taliban started earlier with three separate suicide attacks in Kandahar city and Spin Boldak in mid-January causing dozens of casualties. The suicide attack in Spin Boldak sparked an uncommon organized protest in Afghanistan. According to the BBC and other sources, the crowds protested with cries of “death to Pakistan, death to al Qaeda and death to the Taliban.” In February, another suicide attack was directed at police outpost in Kandahar, the former stronghold of the Taliban, and thirteen police were killed and eleven wounded. In March, fifteen Taliban were believed to have been killed at a border crossing at Spin Boldak, however the Pakistani government claims these were Pakistani citizens and not Taliban fighters. In mid April, forty-one Taliban were killed in firefight near Kandahar.
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