Sar-i-Pul residents say they are forced into fighting
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Residents living near the Shiberghan-Sar-i-Pul highway on Tuesday said some uprising commanders were forcing them into fighting alongside them against Taliban militants.
Dozens of residents of Syedabad area on the outskirts of Sar-i-Pul city, the capital of northern Sar-i-Pul province, arrived in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province.
They said they were armed as uprising members, but still they were being harassed by other uprising commanders.
Saleh Mohammad, a 65-year-old resident of Syedabad area, said they were armed in the presence and with permission of the Shiberghan-Sar-i-Pul highway commander Ziaul Haq.
“We picked up the guns in support of government and security officials against the insurgents to keep security of our areas,” he said.
But they were being harassed over the past two days since security forces launched a military operation spearheaded by Second Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum on the highway in Sar-i-Pul province.
He said some uprising commanders linked to Dostum were forcing them to fight only on their behalf.
Saleh Mohammad said they wanted the vice president and Sar-i-Pul officials to listen to their problems.
Another man in the group, Habibullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News the uprising commanders opened fire at their houses and aimed guns at their women and threatened them with death.
“The vice president should not represent a particular group or tribe, he should care about all,” he said.
The Sar-i-Pul governor’s spokesman, Zabihullah Amani, told Pajhwok Afghan News Dostum had launched a military operation on the Shiberghan-Sar-i-Pul highway two days ago to improve security on the route.
He said the highway had been under direct threat from Taliban militants over the past some time.
He confirmed the highway commander, Ziaul Haq, had armed some individuals along the route to keep the rebels at bay.
But the spokesman also said the Dostum-led operation had been launched without coordination of the provincial administration.
He said the provincial administration had not been informed about the launch of the military offensive and no security forces from Sar-i-Pul were taking part in the operation.
Pajhwok Afghan News tried to seek comments from the first VP’s office, but could not succeed in establishing contact.
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