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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Taliban fighters overran two checkpoints in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province on Tuesday, killing at least 15 Afghan policemen. The fighting in the opium-rich province comes as the lucrative poppy harvest winds down, and the insurgents, who largely control the drug trade, are now flush with cash and new recruits.

    Afghan officials warned after the attack that the Taliban is within striking distance of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

    "The situation is very critical near Lashkar Gah," a senior provincial security official told Reuters on Tuesday, confirming that, after a protracted gun battle, 15 policeman had been killed. "If the government does not act soon, there will be a disaster," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi confirmed on Tuesday that the insurgents had indeed overrun the two two checkpoints. A spokesman for the Helmand governor's office also said that 11 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting. Saeed Khan, a Helmand resident who fled from the countryside to Lashkar Gah several months ago due to fighting, told VICE News that the clashes are getting closer to the provincial capital every day.

    "I was thinking that Lashkar Gah might be safer, but I can hear big sounds of ammunition and artillery on the outskirts of the city," he said. "The government keeps promising they will be launching huge operation, but so far we don't see anything happening. I am fed up with this fighting. I don't have anywhere to go where I can live in peace."

    Helmand is the birthplace of the Taliban and the biggest source of opium in Afghanistan, which supplies as much as 90 percent of the world's heroin. Afghan security forces have been under pressure for months in the province, and government troops have already been forced to pull out of several districts threatened by militants and regroup around Lashkar Gah.

    The province has long been a key battleground for the Taliban. The group launched a spring offensive last month, vowing to drive out the Western-backed government in Kabul and restore strict Islamic rule. But in the past few weeks, fighting in Helmand has been more muted than in other regions of the country, as the Taliban has focused its energies on the opium crop, a key source of revenue for the militants.

    There has been heavy fighting in several other Afghan provinces recently, including in Kunduz in the north, Kunar in the east, and Uruzgan and Ghazni in the center. Tuesday's attacks in Helmand may signal that the militants are on the march in Afghanistan's opium heartland. The insurgents — who control more territory than at any time since the US invasion in 2001 — appear determined to gain control of a Helmand and use it as a base for further conquest.

    Hundreds of American troops were sent to Helmand this year as part of an effort to train and equip local Afghan fighters standing against the Taliban. Afghan security forces had promised to mount an offensive against the Taliban, but the operation never materialized. Meanwhile, in Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has vowed to deal harshly with the Taliban. After militant attacks in the capital Kabul left 64 dead last month, he said he would "show no mercy," to the group. Over the weekend, he ordered the hanging of six Taliban prisoners — the largest execution since he took office. But in Helmand, the country's largest province, the threat was far from neutralized.

    "Over the past few days, the Taliban have been attacking security belts near Lashkar Gah," Bashir Shaker, a member of the provincial council, told Reuters. "The threat is becoming bigger minute by minute. If the government does not take action soon, we will witness the collapse of Lashkar Gah."




    By Avi Asher-Schapiro - Vice/May 10, 2016
    https://news.vice.com/article/taliban-afghanistan-helmand-province-opium-poppy-harvest
    Newshawk Crew

    About Author

    Beenthere2Hippie
    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.

Comments

  1. soso
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    I'm surprised they had to kill police, the police are so corupt that they usually just turn s blind eye dont they?
    The goverment and whole country is corupt to its core.
  2. The QM
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    Reference the photo credit: One of the central tenets of the Taliban doctrine is no drugs use, so i doubt the veracity of the photo.

    There is certainly a drugs battle going on, but NATO /Afghan forces complicity is vastly under reported: like this NATO airstrike (maybe, it might actually have been the Afghan airforce, but no one is quite sure) that killed 11 counter narcotic policemen in Nov 2015:

    or this:
    Opium Harvest Protected by British Forces, 200 Metres From Camp Bastion Fence - thequietmancunian dot com
  3. soso
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    QM the Taliban definately use drugs, not only do they use drugs themselves it's one of the ways they recruit new members. Heroin adicts are given drugs to fight for the Taliban.
  4. AKA_freckles
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    I thought the Taliban were more of uppers kind of guys.
    Anyway,
    I think its like the Hells Angels. They aren't allowed to smoke meth, only snort, but many do it anyway.
  5. prescriptionperil
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    Yeah, you have a point. War usually involves stimulants. Give them MDMA. lol
  6. Beenthere2Hippie
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    I put up a lot of news, and (almost) always put photo credits, along with writer and story credits, on all news stories. But for this photo, for some reason, I did not. And for that I am sorry.

    But I did mange to find evidence that supports the photo's claim of drug use by some Taliban members, which helps support the cutline of the photo:

    "Peace with the Taliban will be complicated by the fact that some Taliban factions have become major players in the drug trade. Recently, the U.S. listed, for the first time, a Taliban leader (Mullah Naim Barich) on the list of key Afghan drug gang leaders. A growing number of Taliban complain that the alliance with the drug gangs is corrupting Taliban followers and leaders. It’s not just the money but also the drugs themselves. Many dead or captured Taliban have been found to be drug users. While not as haram (forbidden) as alcohol, hard drugs (opium and heroin) are considered un-Islamic by many Afghans and their religious leaders."--excerpt from Afghanistan: Taliban Crippled By Heroin Addiction, The Strategy Page, Nov. 12, 2012

    source: https://www.strategypage.com/qnd/afghan/20121116.aspx

    I apologize for any concern this has raised, and thank you to all for your attention to detail.


    Of course, because of religious conviction, most Taliban members avoid using drugs. They also face death for doing so; but I don't think it a far stretch that those who handle this powerful substance on a daily basis would not be tempted to try it themselves.
  7. perro-salchicha614
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    Opium addiction is a serious problem in the Afghan population as a whole (even children) because medical care in that part of the world is substandard, or in many cases, non-existent. This article from USA Today explains the problem of opium addiction in Afghanistan really well:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...istan-opium-addiction-us-withdrawal/22851573/
  8. prescriptionperil
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    Now that you mentioned the general population, I believe I've read articles pertaining to widespread opium addiction.

    Sadly, scenically, it's a beautiful country. And, going back to the Russian invasion, America has sadly contributed to it's demise. Then Wolfowitz's idea to spread democracy throughout the Middle East was a tactic to line up perfectly with 9/11. War is so horrifying. As a psychiatrist once explained, "War is the child self." Think about it.
  9. prescriptionperil
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    REDUNDANT, I didn't realize the post above appeared.

    Apologies.
  10. soso
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    ^^yea the country is beautiful, it's just a shame about some of the people that live there.
  11. prescriptionperil
    Re: Afghanistan Police Killed by Taliban, Hell-Bent on Controlling the Area Opiate Tr

    Yeah, burkas. Ugh, I cannot even imagine. Should head over to "The Attitude of Gratitude" as I feel blessed to live in a country where women have rights.
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