AKIPRESS.COM - At least eight Afghan security personnel and 20 rebels were killed in clashes in Afghanistan's northwestern Jawzjan province, said officials on Sunday, reports Kuwait News Agency.
Jawzjan Governor Lutfullah Azizi in a statement claimed that 20 militants were killed during the operation in Khamab district of Jawzjan and the bodies of the rebels were still lying at the scene of the offensive.
He said that 10 other insurgents were arrested and 30 weapons and three vehicles were seized during the operation. Azizi also confirmed the death of eight security personnel in clashes with militants.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed they had killed 29 Afghan security personnel and wounded a number of others in the offensive, said reports. Afghan officials claimed to retake the Khamab district from Taliban rebels after launching the operation on Thursday.
The clearance operation currently underway in Khum Aab in northern Jawzjan province – which is being led by first Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum - is progressing slowly due to the Taliban's practice of hiding out in civilian homes, reports TOLO news.
Reporting from the area, TOLOnews journalist Wali Arian said civilians are under threat and that their houses are being used as hideouts by insurgents. He reported that a number of homes have also been torched by the Taliban.
He said security forces are trying to prevent civilian casualties – especially during their house-to-house searches for the militants.
Speaking to TOLOnews, Dostum said: "They are hiding behind children, behind women and this makes the war difficult. It is difficult to find out who is the enemy and who is a friend."
Heavy clashes in the district however lasted for a few hours on Sunday and ended after a number of insurgents were killed and arrested.
Speaking to TOLOnews, one security force member who captured an insurgent said: "He [the suspected militant] had a turban on and a white hat and was also in a military uniform. He shouted at us not to fire but when we got closer, he opened fire on us and then he hid in a civilian house."
Another suspected insurgent who was arrested said he joined the Taliban 10 months ago. When arrested by security forces he told TOLOnews that at least 80 of them entered Afghanistan together from the Afghan-Turkmen island along the Turkmenistan border.