Scores dead in ongoing clashes in southern Afghanistan

KABUL (DPA) - Dozens of members of the security forces have been killed in Taleban attacks in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, local officials said on Monday (March 25).

Provincial council chief Mohammad Karim Atal said 20 to 30 men were killed in the attacks in Sangin district in the past 48 hours.

Another provincial councillor, Mr Abdul Majeed Akhunzada, spoke of 40 to 52 members of the security forces killed in the attacks.

A spokesman for the provincial government spokesmen and the ministry of defence could not be reached for comment.

About a week ago, Taleban militants launched a series of retaliatory operations on police, army and local uprising checkpoints in the district, provincial council member Mirza Mohammad Alizada said.

Afghan commandos had been conducting clearing operations in the province in recent weeks, which saw a number of Taleban field commanders captured and weaponry depots destroyed, Mr Alizada said.

Except for the district government building and the local police headquarters, all remaining parts of the district are being controlled by the militants, according to Mr Alizada.

The overall security situation in the southern Afghan province was described as "dangerous" by the local council member, Mr Akhundzada.

Early this month, a Taleban attack on 215th Maiwand corps in Helmand left at least 23 soldiers dead and 16 injured.

The Taleban continue to stage major attacks against security forces while engaged in talks with the United States to find a political solution to the war.

When more than two weeks of talks in Doha concluded in mid-March, both sides spoke of progress. The two sides are due to meet in Doha again for further discussions in the coming weeks.