‘Indiscriminate’ Afghan fighting hurting civilians the most, says UN
KANDAHAR, Aug 3: Afghan forces battled the Taliban for control of a key provincial capital Tuesday, as the United Nations warned "indiscriminate" gunfire and air strikes were hurting civilians the most.
Officials said insurgents had seized more than a dozen local radio and TV stations in Lashkar Gah -- capital of Helmand province and the scene of days of fierce fighting -- leaving only one pro-Taliban channel broadcasting Islamic programming.
In Herat, another city under siege, hundreds of residents chanted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) from their rooftops after government forces repulsed the latest Taliban assault.
The hardline Islamist group has seized control of much of rural Afghanistan since foreign forces began the last stage of their withdrawal in early May, but are meeting resistance as they try to take provincial capitals.
That urban fighting, however, is taking its toll on civilians.
"Taliban ground offensive & ANA air strikes causing most harm," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted Tuesday, referring to the Afghan national army.
"Deep concerns about indiscriminate shooting & damage to/occupation of health facilities & civilian homes."
UNAMA said at least 10 civilians were killed and 85 wounded in Lashkar Gah in the past three days.
"Fighting was intense this morning," said Sefatullah, director of Sukon radio in the city.
"The US B52 and Afghan air force both pounded the Taliban positions," he said, adding that fighting was ongoing near the city's prison and a building housing the headquarters of police and intelligence agencies.
On Monday, the Ministry of Defence said that US air force had carried out air strikes in Lashkar Gah.
In recent days the US military has intensified air strikes across the country in a bid to stem Taliban advances.
Sefatullah said his radio station had "stopped broadcasting two days ago because the Taliban captured the building of our station." -AFP