Thousands of Afghans were forced to flee their homes as fierce fighting erupted between government forces and the Taliban in a southern province after the US military began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan, officials said yesterday.
Afghan forces pushed back insurgent attacks on multiple checkpoints in the past 24 hours itself in the province of Helmand where the US military on Sunday handed over a base to government forces as part of its formal pullout that began on May 1.
About 1,000 families have fled their homes to escape the fighting that erupted on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, and some other parts of the province, said Sayed Mohammad Ramin, the region's director for refugees.
He said the families had taken refuge in Lashkar Gah and had come from areas where fighting was intense in the past two days.
The defence ministry said government forces had killed more than 100 Taliban fighters in Helmand in the past 24 hours when the insurgents attacked some checkpoints on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah. Another 22 al-Qaeda fighters from Pakistan were also killed in the fighting, the ministry said.
Officials said the Taliban fighters initially captured some checkpoints but they were retaken by government forces who pushed back the insurgents. Taliban claimed to have killed dozens of Afghan forces.