Normalcy and IDPs returning to Badakhshan's Yamgan district
FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): Hundreds of families, who fled homes after the Yamgan district of northeastern Badakhshan province fell to the Taliban earlier this month, have returned to their homes.
Schools have reopened in the town, where people had to eat grass in the absence of food items due to blockade of roads connecting the district to the rest of the province in the wake of fierce clashes between security forces and insurgents. Now the issue of food shortage has been resolved to some extent.
Hundreds of Taliban militants attacked and captured the district on July 6, but Afghan security forces recaptured the town few days later as a result of a massive operation.
The war, the presence of armed militants in the district centre, road blockades led to severe food crisis and other problems. Even residents had to eat grass.
During the clashes, the price of a 50-kg bag of flour rose from 1200 afghanis to 4000 afs and a tin of ghee from 100 afs to 500 afs. Similarly prices of other items witnessed two to threefold increase.
Nawroz Mohammad Haideri, the district administrative head, said Badakhshan governor had recently visited Yamgan, promising to attract aid from many organisations including the World Food Progamme (WFP) and distribute to the residents.
He said though the Taliban had blocked the road in Juram district’s Khastak Dara area against security forces, local residents were trying to resolve the issue of food shortages, which had been overcome to some degree.
A resident of Yamgan centre, Abdul Wasi, said the issue of food shortage still persisted. He said he brought three bags of flour from Faizabad, the provincial capital, a day earlier besides few tins of ghee, black tea and other essential daily use items.
He said Taliban militants stopped vehicles in the Juram district on their way to Yamgan and searched for government officials and documents. “I was terrified while taking the food items home,” he said.
When the Taliban captured the district, all schools were closed.
The district education officer, Attaullah Faiq, said after the Taliban’s attempt to capture the town, two high schools for boys and as many for girls had to be closed.
A total of 5,000 students studied in these schools, he added. “But now all the schools have reopened.”
The Taliban attack also forced 600 families to flee homes and take refuge in the bazaar of a government-controlled Dara-i-Yamgan area. Another about 100 families migrated to Karan wa Minjan district.
The Yamgan district chief said all those migrated to the Dara-i-Yamgan area had returned and those to the Karan wa Minjan district were gradually returning.
Izzatullah, who returned from the Gohar village, said they had been living in the government-controlled Dara bazaar, where they had been facing acute shortage of food items.
He migrated to the village with his nine family members. He said they would have migrated to Karan wa Minjan or central Panjsher province if the government had not recaptured the Yamgan district.
A representative of residents of the Gohar village, Qari Abdul Rafi, said the people who migrated to their village had been fed up with Taliban’s atrocities.
Before the fall of Yamgan, about 30 Uzbek and Tajik fighters had arrived in Kaw area of Yamgan from Pakistan’s Chitral district through Topkhana area, he said.
He said more foreign fighters could sneak into the area if the government did not pay attention.
Local official say about 250 foreign fighters have been operating in Yamgan, Warduj and Dara Khastak area of Juram district.
When the district was recaptured, the Ministry of Interior said 120 militants were killed and wounded and the dead included top Taliban commanders like Mullah Hafiz, Maulvi Sabir, Mullah Shukrullah, Commander Rustam and Mullah Hashim Kolabi.
At the time, the Badakhshan governor’s spokesman, Ahmad Naveed Frotan, had said the dead militants also included Taliban’s shadow governor for Badakhshan Maulvi Amanullah.
He said other key commanders killed during clashes with security forces included Maulvi Noruddin, Maulvi Hafiz Qari Abdul Basit, Maulvi Mehboobullah, Fazlullah and Mullah Hashim, a Tajik.
Five security personnel were killed and a dozen others wounded during the clashes, according to Frotan.
But the Taliban had claimed killing 18 security personnel and injuring several others besides destroying two tanks, seizing arms and ammunitions and taking away 10 policemen who were hiding.
Meanwhile, Badakhshan peace council chief Abdul Wahid Taibi warned if militants’ infiltration into the Yamgan district was not blocked, it would endanger nearby Khash, Baharak and Zibak districts.
He said nearly 200 Chechen, Uzbek, Tajik and Pakistani fighters had currently assembled in the Raghistan district.
He said the districts could not be prevented from falling with the current strength of police.
“Our efforts to reconcile Taliban militants through elders are underway, but foreign fighters neither recognise Afghanistan’s constitution nor they are ready for talks with the government.”
He said Taliban militants were willing to renounce violence and so far 800 Taliban fighters had joined the peace process in Badakhshan.
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