lashkargah.jpg
Photograph: Google maps

Taliban fighters launched an attack on the capital of Afghanistan's embattled southern province of Helmand, closing in on the already besieged city, officials said on Monday. 

"Taliban militants attacked checkpoints in 2nd district of Lashkargah city but were not able to penetrate it. Fighting is still ongoing in the area," said Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of the Interior.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that militants had entered the besieged city and captured several checkpoints. 

A mine explosion in the city on Monday morning wounded and killed 14 people, said Amar Zwak, the spokesman for the governor of Helmand but the Italian-run Emergency hospital said it had received at least 30 wounded. 

In a statement the hospital said fighting had intensified and several rockets had hit the city with "one landing 30 metres from our hospital," injuring three people. 

It asked all sides of the conflict "to respect the hospital as a neutral structure and to allow the arrival of the wounded."

A Doctors Without Borders trauma centre in northern Kunduz province was bombed by US forces in September last year while the city was under Taliban control killing 42 patients and staff members and wounding over 30 others.  

Helmand is one of the most embattled provinces in southern Afghanistan with its capital city besieged for at least the last month. Its last two relatively safe districts have been under heavy Taliban fire as well.

In the north of the country, nearly 24,000 residents have been forced to leave the city of Kunduz due to ongoing fighting between security forces and Taliban militants, according to the UN. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said late Sunday most internally displaced persons (IDPs) had moved to the cities of Taloqan, Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif and Pul-e Khurmi. 

According to the Afghan Ministry of Refugees the number of those forced to flee could rise up to 100,000.

"Shelter, sanitation, food, and medical assistance to wounded, children, pregnant/lactating mothers and chronically ill IDPs are most important," OCHA said. 

The Taliban attack on Kunduz started last Monday, a year after the militant group took hold of the strategically important city for two weeks before being driven out by Afghan forces. 

Local officials and residents say little has changed over the past week while the Afghan government claims to have cleared the city of insurgents with fighting ongoing outside city limits. 

According to media reports, the US have conducted more than 20 airstrikes to aid Afghan forces in the fighting. 

Related stories

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.