Afghan forces continue to hold off Taliban insurgents in a district of the volatile southern province of Helmand.
Helman police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang said on December 13 that security forces remain entrenched in the governor's compound and police and army headquarters in Marjah district.
However, he added that surrounding areas were in the hands of the insurgents.
Helmand has long been one of the Taliban's heartlands and the group has put increasing pressure on security forces since the withdrawal of international troops from combat last year.
The fighting has been going on around Marjah for more than a month and the main road linking the district to Lashkar Gah, some 35 kilometers away, has been cut, with around 12 kilometers of the route under Taliban control.
"We plan to launch an operation to clear this area from the Taliban, but they have planted hundreds of bombs, which is making it very difficult," said Sarjang.