Taliban shift war tactics in Kunduz
KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): The Taliban are resorting to suicide attacks and assassinations of government officials because they have been forced out of their sanctuaries in northern Kunduz province, officials said.
However, nearly three months ago, Afghan and international forces cleared the areas of Taliban and established military bases there.
Local officials said that caused the Taliban to change their strategy and they are now using suicide attacks, bombs and assassinations to spread terror.
Abdul Momen Omarkhil, district chief of Chardara, said the Taliban were hiding in some areas, waiting to carry out suicide attacks or assassinations.
“The government should not believe that the Taliban are finished in Kunduz province. In fact, the roots of the Taliban here should be found and eradicated.”
After the Kunduz governor, Mohammad Omar, was assassinated in a bomb blast at a mosque in October last year, several other attacks against security and government officials have been carried out.
Last month, the district chief of Chardara Abdul Wahed Omarkhil was killed in a suicide attack while he was in his office. Seven people were killed and another five injured. Omarkhil has been replaced by his brother, Abdul Momen Omarkhil.
Another suicide attack at the statistics office in Imam Sahib, which was targeting the district chief, killed 33 civilians and wounded 40 others.
Last week, Brig. General Abdul Rahman Sayed Khili, the provincial police chief, was killed in a suicide attack in Kunduz City along with four policemen. Eight others were wounded.
Sayed Khili had recently told a press conference that most of the Taliban had been driven from Kunduz after the operation.
Asadullah Omarkhil, a tribal elder in Kunduz, said the Taliban may have been pushed out of the province, but their leaders were making efforts to regroup.
“When the Taliban were present in the area, they were not only fighting and administrating the areas, they resolved legal disputes and collected Usher. But now they do not control any area and so they only fight and do not have time for other issues.”
The Taliban, however, claim they may not be present in Kunduz, but they are continuing their activities.
A local Taliban commander said they only had time to think about fighting now.
Currently, they are carrying out suicide attacks and planting bombs and mines, but when spring comes they will return to the areas, he said.
“We are not in a situation to assess the cases of people or establish local administrations; we mainly focus on suicide attacks and bomb planting,” the commander said, asking that his name not be used.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, said the insurgents had moved out of Kunduz because of the winter weather, not because of the military operation by the government.
He said the clearance operation in Kunduz was nothing more than a morale booster for government forces.
“The government wants to use the opportunity and considers our tactics as their success, but we will surely prove in the near future that the Taliban is very successful in Kunduz.”
Security officials, however, say that the Taliban have changed their tactics, because they have been weakened.
“The Taliban wants to prove their presence by any means for the interest of the enemies of Afghanistan,” said Col. Abdul Rahman Aqtash, a security official who was wounded in the attack that killed the provincial police chief.
“In the last two years, we witnessed many face-to-face clashes with the Taliban, but now they do not have the ability to fight, they only carry out suicide attacks,” Aqtash said from his hospital bed.
“The sanctuaries of the Taliban will soon be discovered and those who are hiding them will be punished.”
However, some residents say the Taliban are present in the province.
Ghulam Yahya a farmer and resident of Khalzai of Chardara district, said the Taliban were secretly active in his area, but that generally, people were not aware of their activities.
Taliban usually gather at a house, while during the day they move around without weapons to plant bombs, Yahya, 45, said.
In some cases, the Taliban warn people against supporting the government. “Now, the Taliban do not ask for Usher; they do not enter people’s homes or eat their food. They don’t have a presence in these places.”
In the last two weeks, Yahya said, the Taliban had planted three mines on the road, which fortunately did not cause any casualties.
Niaz Mohammad, 50, who lives in Nahr Sufi of Chardara district, said only those Taliban who studied in Pakistani madrassas were in his areas.
He said he was concerned that if the government did not take action, then fighting would begin in spring.
People are concerned about the security situation and expect the government to take some serious action.
However, Gen. Daud Daud, commander of the 303 Pamir zone in the north, said that until people support Afghan and international security forces, ensuring security was impossible.
Speaking at a press conference, he said locals needed to inform security forces as soon as they see anyone suspicious or known militants.
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