Andar residents want anti-rebels offensive continued
GHAZNI CITY (Pajhwok): Residents of the Andar district of southern Ghazni province demanded the continuation of a military operation wrapped up in the town on Thursday. Previously protests had been carried out against the offensive.
Launched two weeks ago, the military operation codenamed “Nasrat” had resulted in the killing and injuring of dozens of armed militants, according to local officials.
Earlier, some residents and tribal elders, who visited the governor’s house in Ghazni City, had alleged civilian casualties in the Afghan National Army (ANA)’s operation. They had called for the offensive to be stopped.
The complainants had accused the ANA’s third battalion commander of intentionally targeting civilians on ethnic lines during the operation.
But hundreds of Andar residents on Thursday took to the streets and blocked the Kabul-Kandahar highway for three hours, calling for the offensive to be continued.
Some 500 people took part in the demonstration. They asked the government to launch operations against militants in other parts of the district.
One of the participants, Mohammad Ibrahim, a tribal elder, claimed hundreds of Taliban and Islamic State-linked militants had sneaked into Andar.
He warned if the government did not launch operations against the armed insurgents, their growing strength would threaten the provincial capital as well.
However, he said civilian casualties should be avoided at all costs. The elder said all Andar residents were supportive of the government and operations against militants.
Another resident, Mullah Abdul Rahim, said the government instead of ending the operation should extend it to other parts of the town.
Rahim claimed the residents, who demanded the operation to be stopped, had been forced by insurgents to do so.
He said insurgents had threatened residents with death if they did not put pressure on the government to stop the offensive against them.
Acting Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada said Andar residents had demanded extension in the operation. He said the operation had been launched by the central government, which monitored the offensive and ordered it stopped on Thursday.
“We will share people’s demands and problems with the central government, which will make the final decision,” he said.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.