Afghan special forces have freed more than 100 prisoners held by the Taliban, including women and children, in an operation in the southern province of Helmand, the military says.
Army spokesman Abdul Qadeir Bahadorzai said the early morning operation on May 31 freed 103 people held in two prisons run by the Taliban in Kajaki district.
Bahadorzai said four militants were killed in the gunbattle.
The Taliban didn’t immediately comment on the matter.
Jawid Saleem, a spokesman for elite commando units, put the number of the freed captives at 102, saying they had been held for a year.
Most of them were said to be civilians and included five women, two children, and three police officers.
They were captured for different reasons ranging from cooperating with Afghan security forces to being a member of the local police force, Saleem said.
According to him, the prisoners were kept in bad conditions with a lack of proper food and health care and were tortured.
Omar Zwak, a spokesman for Helmand's governor, said they will soon join their families but were still being held by Afghan forces.
The special forces operation comes as attacks on Afghan security forces, district centers, and provincial capitals have increased since the announcement of the Taliban's annual spring offensive in April.
On May 30, the militants briefly seized a district headquarters in the Dasht-e Qala district in the northern province of Takhar “after seven hours of fighting and resistance,” a spokesman for the provincial governor said.
But the spokesman, Sunnatullah Timor, told RFE/RL that the country’s security forces recaptured the center a few hours later following heavy fighting.
The violence left at least four security personnel dead, according to officials.
A number of militants were also reported killed.