Southern Afghanistan district besieged by Taliban in government hands, officials say

KABUL - A strategically important district in the southern Afghan province of Helmand that has been besieged by the Taliban for weeks remains under government control after the United States conducted two airstrikes overnight, officials said on Thursday.

See Full Article

Fighting continued, Afghan officials said, after insurgents captured the area around the district governor's compound overnight but were pushed back, said Akhtar Muhammad, a police commander in Sangin.

"An hour later we recaptured that building and now we have it," he told The Associated Press.

The United States military conducted two airstrikes "in the vicinity of Sangin," according to the spokesman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Col. Mike Lawhorn. Both took place before midnight.

The spokesman for the Afghan army in Helmand, Guam Rasoul Zazai, said that Afghan military airstrikes had also bombarded Taliban strongholds in Sangin overnight, killing 25 insurgents and wounding another 12.

Operations were slowed as insurgents began taking shelter in civilian homes, he said.

A Taliban claim that they had the district under their control was widely refuted. Taliban statements regularly exaggerate battlefield gains, though government casualty figures are also impossible to verify.

Sangin is an important prize for the Taliban. It sits on crucial smuggling routes for drugs, arms and other contraband which fund the insurgency.

Insurgents have been fighting for control of Sangin for almost a month, though the battle intensified a week ago as government reinforcements failed to arrive and Afghan security forces were pinned down inside an army base.

Reinforcements arrived Wednesday afternoon after being rushed to the region, the acting Defence Minister Masoom Stanekzai told reporters on Wednesday.

Shadi Khan, a tribal elder in Sangin who is also director of the Sangin District Council, said he was trapped in the base for three days before government forces arrived.

"Taliban rumours that they have captured the district are not true," he said.

The Taliban issued a statement Thursday laying out conditions for a peace dialogue to end the war, now in its 14th year. Talk of a dialogue between the Kabul government and the insurgents has resurfaced following a regional conference in the Pakistani capital earlier this month where hopes were raised that a process that was cancelled over the summer could be revived in 2016.

The announcement in July that the Taliban founder and leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been dead for more than two years saw the group pull out of a dialogue process after only one meeting in Pakistan between representatives of each side. It also led to deep fissures in the group's leadership, further muddying the waters about just who the Afghan government should be talking to when the time comes.

The Taliban statement listed barriers to peace negotiations, including United Nations sanctions on individualTaliban figures which were extended this week, and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, with specific mention of the British troops that arrived in Helmand on Wednesday to provide support for Afghan forces battling in Sangin.

Political analyst Waheed Muzhda, formerly an official in the Taliban's 1996-2001 administration, said the Taliban needed to sort out its leadership problems before it started talking about the peace process. Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was Mullah Omar's deputy and took his place in August, has been locked in an increasingly violent dispute over the legitimacy of his position. "This is an issue that has to be clear in the negotiating process," Muzhda said.


Associated Press writers Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Afghanistan and Humayoon Babur in Kabul contributed to this story.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Newspaper industry may get help from Ottawa: 'Everything is on the table'

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The federal government isn't ruling out offering financial support to the struggling newspaper industry, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said Friday. Newspapers are hurting and all options to help them are being considered, she told reporters after giving a speech to the Montreal Board of Trade. Source
  • India call centre raid leads to steep drop in CRA scams: RCMP

    Canada News CTV News
    The RCMP are crediting a raid on a massive collection of call centres in India with a steep drop in the number of complaints from Canadians about a scam involving callers who claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Source
  • '80s mobster threatened to castrate Donald Trump: Book

    World News Toronto Sun
    Donald Trump was threatened with castration by an angry New Jersey mobster after the billionaire allegedly tried to seduce the gangster's daughter in the 1980s. Journalist David Cay Johnston alleges in his book The Making of Donald Trump that the Republican presidential candidate was smitten with the daughter of high-rolling gambler and occasional mobster Robert Libutti while still married to his first wife Ivana. Source
  • At least 53 killed in overloaded train derailment in Cameroon

    World News CBC News
    Cameroon's transport minister says at least 53 people have died after a train overloaded with passengers derailed along the route that links the country's two major cities. Transport Minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo'o said the derailment Friday also injured at least 300 people. Source
  • Researchers uncover structure of marijuana receptor that makes humans 'high'

    World News CBC News
    Researchers have the clearest-ever picture of the receptor that gives humans the 'high' from marijuana, which could lead to a better understanding of how the drug affects humans. Scientists have long known that molecules from THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, bind to and activate the receptor known as CB1. Source
  • Winnipeg police investigate whether infant suffered fentanyl overdose

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Police in Winnipeg are investigating whether a young child suffered a possible fentanyl overdose. Const. Rob Carver says paramedics were called to a home Tuesday night and found a child under the age of eighteen months in critical condition. Source
  • 'Frantic' doggy-style bent man's 'penis in half'

    World News Toronto Sun
    A British man is breaking his silence after bending “his penis in half” after he and his girlfriend engaged in a vigorous sex romp. Steven Horden, 37, told The UK Sun he and gal pal Kiera Diss were trying for a baby when the bizarre incident occurred. Source
  • Canadian parents spend a quarter of their salary on child care — a third if they're single

    Canada News CBC News
    Canadian families spend almost one-quarter of their income on child care, a ratio that is much higher than in other parts of the world, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says. In a wide-ranging report on the status of young people around the world, the group of wealthy nations found Canada to be among the most expensive for daycare among its 35 members. Source
  • Alberta man designs 'theft-proof' poppy box

    Canada News CTV News
    An Alberta man who was tired of hearing about poppy box thefts has taken matters into his own hands. Dan Kroffat, a businessman and former Canadian professional wrestler, said he has tweaked the traditional poppy box design so that it can’t be stolen. Source
  • Russian Cannibals had sauna sex with 'drunk' woman before serving her at dinner party

    World News Toronto Sun
    Two Russian cannibals had a raunchy threesome with an unsuspecting “drunk” woman before killing then eating her. Cops say Nadezhda Avakumova, 31, was drunk when Kirill Nemykin and Sergey Metlyayev invited her for a sauna in 2014, according to the UK Mirror. Source