‘More districts will fall if Janikhel not recaptured’
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Residents and public representatives in southeastern Paktia province on Sunday said several other districts could also fall to Taliban if the government did not recapture the Janikhel district.
A day earlier, Taliban militants overran Janikhel district following days of fierce clashes with Afghan forces.
Paktia deputy provincial council head, Janat Khan Mangal, told Pajhwok Afghan News the government should take action as early as possible to retake control of Janikhel district.
“Based on the district’s geographical location, the government will be unable to recapture the district without the help of air forces,” he said.
Mangal added Janikhel district had strategic importance for militants, from where they could threaten nearby districts and the region.
Noorullah, a resident of Dand Patan district, said the Taliban had been trying for the past several years to capture Janikhel district, a goal they achieved last Saturday.
He also stressed the government should soon push back the militants from the area.
“It is a populated and geographically big district, it is surrounded by Dand Patan, Samkani, Laja Mangal and Ahmadkhel districts, if the government does not retake it from militants other districts would also fall,” he said.
Paktia deputy governor Abdul Wali Sahi said militants would be not able to keep the district in their control forever.
“We would try to recapture the district from militants by our air forces as soon as possible,” he said.
Governor’s spokesman, Naqib Ahmad Attal, said no military action had been initiated so far to regain control of Janikhel district. But he said an operation was being planned.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, on Saturday said the fighters seized complete control of the district and inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan forces.
The Taliban had laid siege to Janikhel district for several months. Interior and defense ministries’ officials had also traveled to the district for assessing security situation there.
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