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Taliban Launches Major Attack On Outskirts Of Provincial Capital 

The Taliban has launched a major attack on the outskirts of the capital of southern Helmand Province, officials said on October 12.

Since the offensive began on October 9, the militants have managed to overrun the fourth police district, located some 16 kilometers from the city center of Lashkargah.

Fierce clashes were ongoing elsewhere on Lashkargah's outskirts, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak and councilor Hayatullah Mayar told dpa.

The fighting comes as negotiating teams from the Afghan government and Taliban have made little progress since peace talks began in mid-September in Doha, Qatar.

The new clashes have taken a toll on both Afghan military personnel and civilians, but exact casualty figures are not yet known.

The officials said that numerous families, including some pro-government tribal leaders and police officers, have fled their homes to escape the fighting.

According to local media reports, the city's electricity supply has also been cut.

The officials said police officers at some checkpoints in the outskirts of the city have left their positions without any resistance as part of a "tactical retreat."

The Taliban, however, has not yet commented on the clashes nor responded to dpa's queries on the situation.

Meanwhile, the Taliban also attacked the Nad-e Ali and Nahr-e Siraj districts in Helmand, the officials said.

In reaction to the deteriorating situation, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a phone conversation with the province’s governor said that the "enemies’ attacks on Helmand will cost them heavily."