Taliban commander in Helmand province killed by Afghan police

A British soldier at the Taliban heroin factory in Sapwan Kala. Photo from the British Defence Ministry. Click to view.

Afghan police have killed a top Taliban commander in Helmand province, the Afghan Interior Ministry reported. Mullah Sorkh Naqaibullah, a Taliban field commander in Helmand province, was killed along with 24 Taliban fighters after ambushing a police convoy in Marja. Naqaibullah is the fourth Taliban commander killed in Helmand province in the past week.

“Taliban insurgents opened fire on police patrol in Marja district on Wednesday, injuring one police constable. Policemen encountered, resultantly leaving 25 rebels including Mullah Naqibullah dead,” the Interior Ministry statement said.

Naqaibullah, who is also known as the “Red Mullah,” commanded Taliban forces in the Gershk district and the surrounding regions. He received international attention on Jan. 8 after the BBC featured him in a report on problems with Afghanistan’s prisons. Naqaibullah has bribed his way out of prison three times, paying $15,000 to secure his latest release.

NATO and Afghan forces have encountered success in northern Helmand province over the past month. Naqaibullah is the fourth high-level Taliban commander killed over the past week. On Feb. 21, Afghan forces killed Mullah Abdul Bari and 29 Taliban fighters during raids near the Musa Qala and Kajaki districts. On Feb. 22, British forces killed Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Matin and his subcommander Mullah Karim Agha.

Since the Taliban lost Musa Qala in early December, NATO and Afghan forces have pressed the offensive in the northern Helmand River Valley. The Kajaki Dam in northern Helmand province has been a major reconstruction project, and the Afghan government hopes to restore the dam to provide energy for the region. The Taliban have used northern Helmand province as a base of operations to launch strikes into southern and western Afghanistan.

Afghan and NATO forces recently cleared the villages of Karez deh Baba and Kajaki. “Insurgents were using the villages to launch attacks on Musa Qala and the upper Sangin Valley,” Combined Joint Task Force – 82 reported. The Afghan Army “destroyed an extensive tunnel and cave system, insurgent command positions, weapons and ammunition caches as well as IED-making materials” during the operations. The Taliban responded by firing rockets at Karez deh Baba. Five civilians were killed in the attack. British Commandos also destroyed a heroin lab in the village of Sapwan Kala in the Upper Sangin Valley on Feb. 27.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



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