Afghan forces recapture key district

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In a report released Monday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called the numbers "horrifying", adding that they "can never fully convey the sheer human suffering of the people of Afghanistan".

Insurgent attacks killed 1,141 civilians, a 12 per cent increase over the same period previous year, according to the report, which said such attacks wounded another 2,348 people. The report also noted that most forces in Helmand are not local to the area, but come in from the north and east.

The report commended Afghanistan's security forces, saying fewer civilians were caught in the crossfire compared to previous year.

"It was a very successful operation in Helmand", Moqbal said in the release.

The Taliban controls several large districts in Helmand, and its forces have surrounded and attempted to attack the capital city, Lashkargah, for months. He did not provide any figures and there was no way to verify his claims. The fighting in the Naway district was fierce, with more than 50 Taliban killed, according to Waziri, who said just five security forces were wounded.

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The Afghan national defence and security forces on Monday regained the control of the district centre of Nawa in southern Helmand province, nine months after it was captured by the Taliban insurgents, state-run Khaama Press reported.

In the first half of the year, 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured with deaths in the capital Kabul accounting for almost 20 percent of the toll, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

The recapture of Nawa district, which lifted a serious threat to transport links into Lashkar Gah, reflects renewed focus by Afghan forces and their US advisers on Helmand, an insurgent heartland that is source of much of the world's illegal opium.

Launched in the early morning of July 15, Afghan forces advanced on the small district, located a stone's throw away from the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, Motz said in a news release.

Separately, in western Herat province on the border with Iran, three border police officers were snatched from their vehicle and killed by the Taliban, said Jelani Farhad, the provincial governor's spokesman.

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