Taliban accused of using Helmand civilians as human shields

Pakistan tightens border security

Staff Report

2010-02-17

MARJAH – As Operation Moshtarak continued for a fifth day, Afghan and coalition forces reported seeing Taliban fighters in Helmand province using civilians as human shields, while Pakistan said it was beefing up security on its side of the Pak-Afghan border.

A NATO military commander was quoted by RFE/RL February 17 as saying Afghan and coalition forces have “significantly dislocated” the militants’ local leadership. But news media also reported heavier fighting in Marjah and the use of aircraft to support Afghan and international troops.

Afghan National Army (ANA) Gen. Mohiudin Ghori said ANA troops have seen Taliban fighters firing from behind women and children on building rooftops.

Other reports described how witnesses could see civilians in compounds and in the windows of buildings from which the Taliban were firing.

The area near Marjah remains heavily mined. According to news reports, the mines are killing a significant number of civilians.

In Pakistan, Maj. Gen. Saleem Nawaz, Inspector General Frontier Corps Balochistan, said the military was adding troops and digging ditches along the Pak-Afghan border in the Chaghai and Dalbandin districts of Balochistan.

According to The Nation, Saleem said the military increased security because only two Afghan border checkpoints existed in Helmand. He said the military had stationed more troops at the Chaman border checkpoint adjacent to Spin Boldak and Kandahar.

Pakistani forces are also carrying out aerial surveillance of the border, the Nation reported.

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