Latest News

    Security and Crime

    Tribal elders in Balkh worry about assassinations

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Residents of northern Balkh province are concerned over the killing of tribal elders and have called on security officials to take action.

    Around 20 tribal elders have been killed in Balkh over the past three years, according to a tally by Pajhwok Afghan News, but residents say the number has exceeded 30.

    Some of the more prominent include Nadir Shah, Musa Jan, Malim Asad, Abdul Hameed and Hayatullah, along with Commander Chagha Dar, Noor Muhamamd Bai, Fazal Rahman and Shafiq, who were killed in Char Bolak, Balkh, Sholgar and Chamtal districts.

    Fazal Rahman was the most recent tribal elder to be killed in Balkh when he was shot dead in Seya Ab village earlier this month by two men on a motorbike.

    His family said they did not know why he was killed as he had no enmity with anyone.

    Habibullah, 25, a resident of Arab Mazari village of Chamtal district, and a son of the late Musa Jan said his father too had no apparent enemies.

    “My father had gone to Pashma Qala village to resolve a problem about the distribution of water for irrigation. As he was returning home, two men on a motorcycle gunned him down.

    “There was no Taliban there at the time, although sometimes armed men with their faces covered by their shawls or turbans do come into the village.”

    He said that security officials had failed to arrest his father’s killers.

    Gen. Asmatullah Alizai, chief of police in northern Balkh said there were some armed opposition groups who were trying to make trouble in the area. “Killing of ethnic elders has decreased this year, but I can’t deny that many ethnic elders have been killed in the last few years,” he said.

    He blamed police for prioritising their own interests and not providing good security. There were also rivalries between different ethnic-based political parties which could be a cause of the killings.

    However, Alizai said he believed Rahman was killed to show that the government was weak in that area.

    Some political analysts say tribal and political hostilities are at play and that some of the tribal elders who have been killed are members of the Hizb-i-Islami party which is a rival to the Jamait-i-Islami, the party of the powerful provincial governor, Atta Mohammad Noor.

    Wakeel Mateen, a Mazar-i-Sharif-based political analyst, pointed to the killings three weeks ago in Sholgara district and said the killers had not yet been arrested.

    “In a big city like Kabul, security officials can arrest those who threw acid at the Afghan journalist Razaq Mamon, but they are not able to arrest a killer in such a small district like Sholgara.”

    Provincial officials say there is no hostility between the parties.

    Munir Farhad, the governor’s spokesman, said: “We don’t agree with killing at all, we are trying to prevent that.

    “Ethnic elders are not killed because of political hostilities between Hizb-i-Islami and Jamait-i-Islami.

    “Each and every assassination has a cause, but it doesn’t mean that it is political. They might be killed because of personal reasons.”

    Farhad said they the number of assassinations had fallen this past year.

    A few days earlier, hundreds of tribal elders in Gardez, capital of southeastern Paktia province, in a show of solidarity, called on the government to prevent assassinations which were mostly happening in the northern provinces.