Key Khost town closed after blast hits Afghan troops
KHOST CITY (PAN): Security officials have closed down Khalbisat township in the Sabaryo district of southeastern Khost province, residents said on Thursday.
The town was closed on Wednesday, a day after an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle was blown up in the area. Three soldiers and seven civilians were injured in the blast.
A food shop owner in Khalbisat, Anwar Khan, said the government had asked the residents to prevent security incidents in the town. How can harmless shopkeepers could do that, he asked, when well-equipped security forces were unable to prevent bomb blasts and other terrorist attacks? "This is an unfair and unreasonable demand," Khan said.
Wali Badshah, another shop owner, said it was the responsibility of the government to protect the people, but they are trying to shift that responsibility to the residents.
Badshah said the civilians of the area face an irresolvable dilemma. "If we inform government forces about the presence of insurgents, the militants would kill us,” he said. “And if we did not, the government seals our shops.”
Shopkeepers said if the town were not reopened as soon as possible, they would incur huge financial losses. Khalbisat is the second largest commercial area in the province after Khost city, the provincial capital.
The district chief, Daulat Khan Qayumi, confirmed the town's closure by security forces. He linked the closure to insurgent attacks on security forces in the area, as well as the town’s unplanned establishment.
Qayumi said the town would be reopened if residents agreed to prevent militants from planting bombs on roads and launching attacks on security forces. The town would remain closed until shopkeepers accept these conditions, he said. He added that the government wanted to destroy the unmapped town and rebuild a planned one.
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