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    Batikot insecurity lingers despite operation

    JALALABAD (PAN): Residents of the Batikot district in eastern Nangarhar province on Monday said insurgents continued to harass them despite a security operation aimed at driving the rebels from the town.

    The Afghan-led search operation was wrapped up, with no visible change in the security situation, residents complained. "Security has been worse over the past one year. Ordinary people are bearing the brunt," said a tribal elder.

    Malak Nasib told Pajhwok Afghan News the government's writ prevailed only around the district headquarters, while fighters held sway across the district.

    “Police are unable to patrol roads due to insecurity. A total of 14 policemen guard the district centre. How can they guarantee safety of civilians?” asked the elder, who claimed the recent security operation had failed to change the ground situation.

    Another tribal elder, wishing anonymity, believed security could improve only when major operations were conducted in Batikot with the cooperation of foreign troops.

    He recalled a recent attack on some Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicles on their way from Spin Khwar area to Barikab. The soldiers, backed by police, could not capture a single attacker, who hid in nearby olive farms.

    Provincial council member, Zabihullah Zmarai, acknowledged the Taliban remained active in Sherzad, Khogyani, Pachir Agam, Chaparhar and Batikot districts. He said locals opted to approach the rebels for resolving their disputes "due to fast dispensation of justice".

    But a spokesman for the 201st Selab Military Crops, Col. Noman Hatifi, said several militants had been detained during the operation in Batikot. “The fighters have no courage to enter a face-to-face fight with Afghan forces. It is the responsibility of police to maintain security in areas where operations are conducted.”

    If the people avoided giving refugee to the insurgents in their homes, they would not get hurt during operations, the colonel explained.

    Mirza Mohammad Nasrat, the district chief, blamed the failure to stem insurgent activity on forests where rebels hid after attacks. He said the interior ministry had been requested to deploy the NATO-backed Local Police Force (LPF) to Batikot.

    “We are considering many options to overcome the problem of insecurity,” said Nangarhar’s deputy police chief, Col. Masoom Khan Hashimi.

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