‘Some senior officials back illegal gunmen in Takhar’
TALOQAN (Pajhwok): A number of senior government officials ‘support’ illegal armed militia groups in Yangi Qala district of northern Takhar province, alleged the district chief on Tuesday.
The Yangi Qala district chief, Mehrabuddin Haqju, told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview that the number of illegal armed individuals had recently increased in the district.
He called as main cause of insecurity in the district the presence of irresponsible armed men who Haqju said were also involved in land grabbing, drug smuggling, kidnapping and collecting ushr from people.
“These armed men violate laws and create problems for law enforcement forces in the area. They also harass local residents,” said Haqju. Former jihadi commanders led the armed groups and the local government has been unable to bring them to justice, said the district chief.
He said the illegal armed groups also enjoyed support of government officials. “We have 52 police in the district police headquarters, while some 400 illegal armed men equipped with heavy and light weapons operate here, police cannot take action against them,” Haqju said.
The Yangi Qala district chief did not name any former jihadi commander or government official who support the militias, but warned the gunmen would expand their activities if not controlled in-time.
Residents say most parts of the district are under Taliban’s control and illegal armed groups are a major cause of insecurity there.
Eid Mohammad, a resident, said many people had joined Taliban ranks after being tortured by the illegal armed men.
“The armed men do not torture or usurp land or kill relatives of those who join the militants, Mohammad said, fearing the security situation could further worsen if the government did not take action soon.
“Illegal armed men freely move in cities, no one can prevent them, their actions force people into joining Taliban, they grab people’s land, rob them of money and sexually assault their women,” he said.
Thousands of illegal armed men are reportedly operating in Takhar districts and are accused of being involved in various crimes.
Takhar police chief Brig. Gen. Noor Mohammad Hakimi confirmed illegal gunmen were involved in criminal incidents in the province.
“We have shared this problem with Kabul officials and we are awaiting their response,” he said.
The police chief claimed he could disarm all illegal armed groups if received orders from the central government.
The number of illegal armed men in Takhar increased last year when the Afghan government equipped former ex-jihadi commanders with weapons as part of an anti-Taliban campaign.
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