Taliban overrun remote district: Afghan police

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the district was captured along with 12 police officers and their weaponry.

Updated: Mar 29, 2011, 20:58 PM IST

Kabul: About 300 Taliban fighters on Tuesday
overran the tiny capital of a remote and mountainous district
in northeast Afghanistan, forcing police to retreat from their
small outpost in the area, an official said.

The takeover was another indication of the
deteriorating security situation in the north and east of the
country, and a sign that the Taliban are preparing for a
spring offensive against Afghan security forces and coalition
forces.

Nuristan provincial police chief Shamsul Rahman said
the insurgents took control of the main village in rugged
Waygal district during a pre-dawn raid. He added that police
decided to retreat and said they suffered no casualties. By
taking its seat, the insurgents essentially took over control
of the small district.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the district
was captured along with 12 police officers and their weaponry.

He said the Taliban met little resistance and the rest
of the police retreated in the direction of the provincial
capital.

NATO said it had no forces at all in the district.

The Taliban and other insurgents groups control large
swathes of Nuristan, neighboring Kunar and other northeastern
provinces near the Pakistani border. Insurgents retain safe
havens in Pakistan`s neighboring lawless tribal regions and
infiltrate across the border into Afghanistan to attack NATO
troops.

Much of Afghanistan remains insecure and with little
freedom of movement for security forces. Heavy fighting is
expected to break out during the spring and summer in the
south and southwest, where US-led forces have focused their
campaign against the insurgency. Although gains have been made
in the region, often at great cost for coalition troops,
officials warn the gains are reversible.

Rahman said insurgents have had influence over large
parts of Nuristan`s remote districts for months. He said
police were restricted in their movements and did not have
enough heavy weaponry.

"We were in a narrow place and we had no way to fight
because we were restricted in our movements," Rahman said. "We
had no casualties and it was a good decision to leave to
prevent casualties. There were not enough heavy weapons with
the police."

He did not say how many police were involved, but such
small districts usually only have a couple dozen security
forces on the ground. He added there were meetings under way
in the provincial capital of Parun to decide on whether to try
retake the town.

Waygal has been the scene of bloody fighting in the
past.

On November 11, 2007, insurgents ambushed and killed
six US and three Afghan soldiers walking in the mountains of
Waygal after a meeting with village elders. Another eight US
troops were wounded.

PTI