Afghan forces retreat from districts in strategic Helmand

KANDAHAR: Afghan troops have retreated from two districts in the southern province of Helmand, officials said Monday, a move which highlights the challenge from Taliban fighters in the opium-producing region.

“The Afghan army retreated from two army bases in Musa Qala and one base from Nawzad district” on Saturday, provincial governor Khan Rahimi told AFP, leaving no troops anywhere in those districts.

He said the soldiers had moved to other parts of Helmand such as the heavily-contested districts of Lashkar Gah and Sangin, adding: “We have no concerns regarding this step but we have plans to ensure security in other vulnerable areas.”

But the decision was criticised by Abdul Majeed Akhundzada, deputy chief of the provincial council. “Retreating from Musa Qala looks to me like ignoring the deaths of Afghan security forces and the civilians,” Akhundzada said.