Fifteen years after they were toppled from power in Afghanistan by US troops and their tribal allies,the Taliban militants,who facilitated the 9-11 attacks by harbouring al-Qaida terrorists, began an assault on Lashkar Gah,capital of Helmand Province in the country's south,early Monday morning with a car bombing that killed ten policemen and wounded four others.Afghan National Defence and Security Forces repulsed the raid,the Defence Ministry said,but more than 300 ANDSF commandos had to be deployed from Kabul and neighbouring provinces to mount a clearance operation in the oft-contested city where more than 100 US troops were specially deployed themselves in August to help prevent,or at least reverse,just such an occurrence.*
US enablers are in the area and will support as needed,a NATO spokesman said.Yesterday there were two airstrikes in Helmand.Both of those were in support of ANDSF.*
We have enough forces on the ground now,added Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.Afghan Air Force and NATO's air support is also helping our forces.*
The Taliban have spent the current fighting season attacking a number of provincial capitals besides Lashkar Gah:Kunduz and Baghlan in the north;and Farah in the west as well.When finally driven out of a city,the Islamist extremists typically counterattack.In Kunduz,for example,the Taliban briefly controlled the city last year,but were driven away by ANDSF and NATO,only to lay siege to the city again-and again be forced out-a year later.On Tuesday,they also counterattacked in Farah and heavy clashes erupted.*
A number of Taliban raids have been focused on Lashkar Gah in the lead-up to Monday's foray.Roads from neighbouring districts have been heavily mined by the militants,who have full or at least effective control of nearly all of Helmand's 14 districts.*
Besides the Taliban,other Islamist extremists such as al-Qaida remnants and even the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,or ISIL,have to be combatted from time to time in the mountainous nation.