Taliban launch recruitment drive in Helmand: ANA
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The Taliban insurgents have launched a recruitment drive in the northern district of southern Helmand province, forcing locals to swell their ranks, a military official said on Tuesday.
Gen. Ghulam Farooq Parwani, deputy commander of the 215th Maiwand Corps of the Afghan National Army, said the militants had embarked on the recruitment campaign after suffering a lot of casualties in the areas.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, he said the security forces had frustrated the Taliban’s plan to capture Sangin, Musa Qala, Kajaki and Nawzad districts. But the rebels lost 400 fighters in weeks of intense fighting.
He dismissed the impression of a lack of coordination among security forces, saying the guerrillas had shifted weapons and ammunition worth $1 million to Sangin through the Ghorak district of Kandahar and the Samandar area of Kajaki.
Parwani said: “We have prevented the fall of Sangin on the one hand and scuttled plans of the Punjabi Taliban on the other.” The ANA had deployed adequate combat units to the district to deal with possible threats, he explained.
Maj. Gen. Juma Gul Himmat, the Helmand police chief, confirmed the militants were forcing people in almost all northern districts to fight against government forces.
“Heavy losses have been inflicted on the fighters in the latest round of fighting and that is the reason they want to revenge and conducting recruitment,” he added.
But Fazal Bari Fayyaz, a provincial council member, said he was unaware of the Taliban recruiting people. Belonging to Kajaki district, Fayyaz said: “Locals have not yet said they are being forced by militants to join their ranks.”
Abdul Ahad Masoomi, a farmer from a northern district, said he had never heard about militants compelling people to fight alongside them.
Rejecting the official claim, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “These all are groundless rumours. Taliban are still in control of the areas which are under their influence.”
The insurgents had never coerced anyone into fighting, he said, adding they would welcome the security personnel willing to join their ranks.
Fighting erupted in Sangin and northern districts around two months back amid reports that sporadic clashes are still ongoing in some areas. Officials say 2,000 people have been killed or wounded so far.
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