Source: Washington Post
When Taliban fighters penetrated the capital of Helmand province for the first time Monday, killing at least 14 people in a suicide bombing and related attacks, it was their most successful assault to date on the strategic southern city and opium trade center, which the insurgents have been trying to capture for months.
Government forces pushed them out after several hours, and officials declared the situation under control, but by then some panicked residents had fled the beleaguered city, and the psychological damage had been done. The Taliban had not raised their flag over Lashkar Gah, but they had come awfully close.
Monday’s ground assault and bombing came two days after Gen. John W. Nicholson, the top U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan, flew from Kabul to Lashkar Gah and promised worried local leaders that international forces would do everything possible to make sure the city does not collapse.