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Afghan official: Taliban closing in on key city in the south

  • FILE - In this July 24, 2016 file photo, Afghan police soldiers practice, in Lashkargah, capital of southern Helmand province, Afghanistan. Kareem Atal, head of the provincial council, said Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, that troops are being deployed to a key southern city in Helmand province where fighting is raging with the Taliban to ensure it does not fall to the insurgents. Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Kabul government and the Taliban, whose insurgency is now in its 15th year. (AP Photos/Abdul Khaliq, File)

    FILE - In this July 24, 2016 file photo, Afghan police soldiers practice, in Lashkargah, capital of southern Helmand province, Afghanistan. Kareem Atal, head of the provincial council, said Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, that troops are being deployed to a key southern city in Helmand province where fighting is raging with the Taliban to ensure it does not fall to the insurgents. Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Kabul government and the Taliban, whose insurgency is now in its 15th year. (AP Photos/Abdul Khaliq, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -- In this March 9, 2016 file photo, smoke rises from a building, where Taliban insurgents hide during a fire fight with Afghan security forces, in Helmand province, south west Afghanistan. Kareem Atal, head of the provincial council, said Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, that troops are being deployed to a key southern city in Helmand province where fighting is raging with the Taliban to ensure it does not fall to the insurgents. Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Kabul government and the Taliban, whose insurgency is now in its 15th year. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE -- In this March 9, 2016 file photo, smoke rises from a building, where Taliban insurgents hide during a fire fight with Afghan security forces, in Helmand province, south west Afghanistan. Kareem Atal, head of the provincial council, said Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, that troops are being deployed to a key southern city in Helmand province where fighting is raging with the Taliban to ensure it does not fall to the insurgents. Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Kabul government and the Taliban, whose insurgency is now in its 15th year. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

An Afghan official says troops are being deployed to a key southern city in Helmand province amid intense fighting with the Taliban and fears it could fall to the insurgents within days.

Kareem Atal, head of the provincial council, says Taliban fighters have completely surrounded Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand. He says army and police units have been pulled back from checkpoints farther afield and brought back to reinforce the city.

He says that "new forces are arriving" in the city on Wednesday.

The fighting has closed all the highways leading into Lashkar Gah, forcing up prices for food and other basics inside the city.

Helmand is a strategically important province for both the Kabul government and the Taliban, whose insurgency is now in its 15th year.