Helmand operations delay major offensive in Kunduz
KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): Clearing operations in certain parts of northern Kunduz province have been delayed as most of security personnel are engaged fighting insurgents in southern Helmand province, an official said on Sunday.
Afghan special commandos had conducted raids in different parts of the province, killing scores of insurgents and averting a huge threat the rebels posed to Kunduz City, he added.
The governor said the security belt had been strengthened around Kunduz City and it would be difficult for Taliban to stage attacks on security forces’ facilities.
The acting governor said the bulk of security forces were currently engaged fighting militants in Helmand and after the end of the offensive there, they would kick off major clearing operations against insurgents in Kunduz.
Security forces have been fighting militants in Sangin, Nahr-i-Saraj and some other districts of Helmand backed by the Afghan Air Force pounding insurgents’ positions.
President Ashraf Ghani has praised the role of security forces in the fight against rebels in parts of the country.
Two months ago, Ghani visited Kunduz and said the province was under government’s attention and the Taliban active in northeastern zone would be driven during a clearing operation.
Kunduz residents say Taliban militants are present at a distance of only one kilometer from the city. They fear Kunduz could again fall to insurgents in spring of next year if the government does not take action.
Mohammad Naeem, a resident of Kunduz City, said the government in the past too had promised clearing operations, but nothing happened and Kunduz city finally fell to Taliban.
“The weather is very fine to conduct clearing operations now and all security forces are available, but the government is silent and this silence has increased people’s woes,” he said.
Mohammad Yousuf Ayubi, the provincial council chief, said people were worried about the presence of Taliban militants around Kunduz City.
He said militants were fighting against Afghan forces in most areas on the outskirts of Kunduz City where gunfire could be heard every now and then.
“Taliban have seized heavy and small weapons during the siege of Kunduz and people are worried the militants would create high threat to their security,” he added.
According to a fact-finding commission, tasked with investigating the fall of Kunduz city, militants had seized more than 1,000 weapons from security organs, 37 armored vehicles and other ammunition during their occupation of Kunduz City for three days.
However, the Ministry of Interior Affairs had denied the commission’s claims.
Gen. Ghulam Muhayuddin Ghori, the commander for the 20th Pamir Unit in the northeastern zone, said the fall of Kunduz would not repeat and security forces were always prepared to repel militant attacks on the city.
Local security officials had said that several militants were killed including their commanders during separate operations in parts of Kunduz province in the past few days.
On the other hand, Kunduz police chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh told a news conference on Sunday that militants were under Afghan forces’ attacks and were suffering large number of casualties.
“The Taliban would never achieve their goals in Kunduz and they would be killed whenever they raise their heads,” he added.
The Taliban have denied their commanders had suffered casualties and claimed they were alive and active in most parts of Kunduz province.
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