Commuters in trouble as Taliban roadblock continues
GHAZNI CITY (Pajhwok): The Taliban kept the Kabul-Kandahar highway blocked for a third day on Wednesday, adding to the miseries of stranded commuters who are spending nights under the open skies in southern Ghazni province.
The insurgents blocked the key road in Shahbaz and Nani areas three days back, leaving commuters with no option but to disembark from vehicles and start their journey on foot.
Some were able to reach their homes, but others are still waiting for the road to be reopened.
One of the stranded passengers, Shah Agha, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “The road remained blocked for a third day today and we spend nights here in the open despite cold. What else we can do?” he said.
He said the passengers had run out of food and nearby shops had increased the price of a single biscuit pack from 20 afghanis to 100 afghanis.
He said there had been clashes between security forces and Taliban militants in the area, causing casualties to civilians, Taliban and security forces.
Shah Agha said the Taliban had emplaced landmines on the road at different locations in order to prevent people from travelling on the road.
A truck driver, Mohammadullah, who is travelling to Kandahar, said: “It has been third day the road is blocked and hundreds of people have been stranded and they spend nights in the open.”
He said most of the passengers had returned back to Kabul and others to Kandahar. “But we cannot go back because we have loaded our vehicles with goods.”
He said the Taliban last night allowed some vehicles carrying women and children to proceed.
He said the government should provide food items to the stranded people otherwise their condition would deteriorate.
Naqibullah, a resident of Ashiqan area of Andar district, said clashes between security forces and Taliban militants were underway over the past three days in their area.
He said nine civilians had been killed and more than 10 others wounded as a result of the clashes.
The deputy governor of Ghazni, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, confirmed the Kabul-Kandahar highway remained blocked for a third day on Wednesday.
He said security forces were locked in clashes with Taliban militants to drive them away and reopen the road.
He said so far 60 militants, including their three commanders named Mullah Abbas, Mullah Abdul Rahman and Mullah Mukhlis had been killed. He also said the Taliban had planted landmines on the highway.
Special unit police commander in Ghazni Mohammad Islamail Quraishi told Pajhwok Afghan News the road would be reopened for traffic by the end of the day.
“Currently the Taliban have withdrawn from the road, but they had damaged bridges and planted landmines. We are trying to reopen the road today,” he said.
There were no fresh words from the Taliban about the road blockade, but a day earlier they issued a statement confirming they had blocked the highway as part of their offensive Azm.
The statement quoted the group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, as calling the blockade a “tactical move” to achieve some goals.
Mujahid had asked people to avoid using the road until the Taliban achieved their goals. But he did not explain the goals.
The militants had torched a multi-wheeler vehicle and blown up some bridges with explosives.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.