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    In Logar, Taliban's presence on the rise

    PUL-I-ALAM (PAN): Residents and officials complain the presence of Taliban has increased in the central province of Logar. They stress the need for immediate measures to deal with the situation.

    "We can say that Taliban fighters have influence in 80 percent areas of Logar," a tribal elder of the Mohajir village on the outskirts of Pul-i-Alam, Abdul Rashid, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    Over the past six months, the security situation has worsened in the province, where the militants were more active and controlled many areas, he said. They travel on motorcycles without any fear, he added.

    The guerrillas are present in many parts of the district and attack foreign forces patrolling the area, said a resident of Baraki Barak district, Abdul Bari. "Police can’t visit the area to solve people's problems. They come to the area as part of a joint patrol with foreigners."

    The government's writ is confined to the district headquarters and adjoining villages, he claimed, urging effective measures to contain the rebels.

    "The Taliban sometimes resolve public disputes," said a resident of Kharwar district, Gulabuddin, while referring to the mounting influence of the insurgents.

    Rebel assaults have increased recently in the area, said Abid, 40, a resident of Pul-i-Alam, the provincial capital.

    The fighters' influence had been on the rise in remote areas of the province since March, acknowledged the provincial council head, Dr. Abdul Wali Wakeel.

    A member of the council, Nafisa Hijran, agreed the situation was worrying. "Security could worsen later this year," she feared, referring to heightened Taliban activity in Pul-i-Alam and districts.

    With implementation of reconstruction projects becoming difficult, she said public representatives could not travel to remote areas due to insecurity.

    The Taliban were more active in Kharwar, Baraki Barak, Azra, Charkh districts, and parts of Mohammad Agha and Pul-i-Alam, said the governor’s spokesman, Din Mohammad Darwesh.

    Crime branch chief Col. Mohammad Jan Abid said the Taliban had stepped up their activities in Kharwar, Baraki Barak and Charkh districts. As part of measures to bolster security, 13 checkpoints would be set up on the Kabul-Gardez highway, he revealed.

    But Col. Abid denied the Taliban controlled 80 percent areas of the province, saying the insurgents often fled the areas they attacked.

    A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said they had intensified their operations in Logar due to the strategic location of the province. "Logar is important to us and we want to focus on it."

    myn/mud



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