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Afghan Forces Reportedly Retake District from Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan official says government forces have regained control of a strategic district in southern Helmand province that the Taliban had seized.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said Sunday that Afghan forces launched an operation on Friday to retake the district of Musa Qala. Zwak says the fighting killed six soldiers and wounded 14.

Taliban insurgents overran Musa Qala on Wednesday after a week of attacks targeting security forces there.

NATO said it conducted at least 13 airstrikes on Taliban positions in the district last week to aid Afghan forces.

Helmand, the source of most of the heroin produced in Afghanistan, is the Taliban heartland and the scene of heavy fighting since the warm weather fighting season began in April.

Meanwhile, gunbattles between rival Taliban factions left at least five dead in southern Afghanistan, a top official with the insurgent group said Saturday as its members meet in Pakistan to resolve a leadership crisis following the death of its former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

It was the first confirmed report of deadly Taliban infighting after an announcement last month that Mullah Omar had been dead for more than two years. Mullah Omar's family objected after his former deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, was named the new Taliban leader and rivalries have spilled into violence, said Ahmad Rabbani, head of a committee trying to reunify the group.

Rabbani spoke from the Pakistani city of Quetta, where hundreds of Taliban loyalists are meeting in an effort to resolve the split.

The five deaths came after Taliban commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, loyal to Mullah Omar's family, led hundreds of gunmen against Mansoor supporters in the southern Afghan province of Zabul, where the Taliban have long had a fighting presence, Rabbani said.

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