The Taliban have seized control of a strategically important district in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, just hours after the province’s deputy governor warned the region was on the verge of falling into the hands of the insurgents, official sources told EFE Monday.

Afghan troops in Sangin district decided Sunday night to withdraw from the complex housing government offices in what a military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, termed a “strategic retreat.”

“It was a strategic retreat to avoid more casualties among the security forces,” the official said, without providing details on the number of Afghan police and soldiers killed in clashes with the Taliban in Sangin.

Hashim Alokozai, a provincial senator, confirmed that insurgents had occupied all government buildings in the district and that the death count among Afghan troops was high, although he said he could not provide a precise figure.

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