Clearing operation underway on outskirts of Baghlan capital
PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok): Security forces on Tuesday launched a clearing operation in the Dand-i-Ghori area on the outskirts of Pul-I-Khumri, the capital of northern Baghlan province.
Dand-i-Ghori, having a population of 30,000 people, is located two kilometers from the provincial capital. The area has been under Taliban’s control for the past nine months.
Deputy Governor Abdul Qadim Niazi told Pajhwok Afghan News the operation, featuring air force and ground troops, was launched in the morning.
He said militant hideouts were under rocket fire from Tapa Cement locality and the Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel were closing in on Dand-i-Ghori.
Niazi himself was at the scene with security forces, who were advancing carefully due to landmines on the route. There was no immediate information regarding casualties, he said.
Baz Mohammad, a resident of Hashtat village, said they were hearing sporadic rocket fire targeting Ahmadzai, Joi Naw and Postak Bazaar areas. “The Taliban have parked their vehicles near civilian houses, positioning fighters in different areas.”
Provincial council member Firozuddin Emaq believes the operation should have been initiated two weeks ago. He said the Taliban had positioned fighters on the Pul-i-Khumri-Mazar-i-Sharif highway.
The militants fired 12 rockets from Dand-i-Ghori into Pul-I-Khumri, leaving a man and a child dead and 10 others wounded.
However, Emaq said public representatives had discussed the issue with the National Security Council (NSC) and relevant ministries last month. Security officials were ready to start an operation in Dand-i-Ghori but tribal elders preferred peaceful ways to solve the problem.
He suggested all exit roads be closed and the rebels’ precise hideouts identified. The number of militants in Dand-i-Ghori is estimated at around 1,000.
A week earlier, a number of residents complained they were forced into digging trenches for the militants and deprived of telecom services at night.
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