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‘Andar dwellers between the devil and the deep blue sea’

‘Andar dwellers between the devil and the deep blue sea’

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May 22, 2018 - 08:31

SHARANA (Pajhwok): The residents of insurgency-plagued Andar district in southern Ghazni province say they are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea as Talibaninfo-icon militants and security forces continue to fight for control of the Paktika-Ghazni highway.

The highway has been closed for traffic in Andar district by Taliban militants who have created a subway along the main route to check and search each vehicle.

People are complaining the militants even take taxes from vehicles on the highway which was closed about two weeks back following a direct engagement between Afghan forces and Taliban rebels in Andar district.

Akbar Rahil, a civil societyinfo-icon activist in Sharana, the provincial capital, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Paktika-Ghazni highway remained shut for passengers.

“This highway has been closed by Taliban who have opened a subway alongside the main road, if a person uses a third route, the Taliban open fire at him and if a person avoids traveling on the main highway, the Afghan forces fire at them, so the people are in great trouble,” he said.

Shaista Khan, a resident of Sharana, said: “Few days back, I was traveling to Pakitka with family, Afghan forces ordered me to go on the main highway but when I arrived in Khani Kala area, the Taliban attacked us, we hide in a safe place but my car received some 75 bullets.”

He said they stayed at the safe place until Afghan forces arrived and rescued them.

A driver on the highway, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok that the Taliban were searching people on subways from Sultan Bagh to Tasang area of Andar district.

He said the Taliban had also opened their own customs office in Tasang area and they taxed dozens of cars every day.

 “Taliban have taken money from me several times in this area,” he said, without giving details. The driver urged the government to stop the militants from such acts.

Pajhwok obtained a copy of the Taliban’s tax paper titled “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistaninfo-icon’s Borders Department.”

On this paper, a Mazda truck driver is taxed 2,500 Pakistani rupees 13 days ago and the signature area is written with the word “Nijat” only.

A telephone number is also written at the bottom of the paper with a note that read “people can contact the number if face any problem.”

Pakitka governor’s spokesman, Mohammad Rahman Ayaz, said there was no problem in Paktika territory but the problem was in Ghazni province.

“We have several times contacted Ghazni officials over resolving the problem and they are also trying to solve it,” he said.

Ghazni governor’s spokesman, Mohammad Arif Noori, confirmed problems on the Paktika-Ghazni highway and confirmed the Taliban had opened their customs officer there.

 “We are facing a shortage of soldiers, so there is no immediate plan to ensure security on the highway and destroy the Taliban’s customs,” he said.

On the other hand, a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that the Taliban had closed the highway in order to prevent civilian casualties during fights.

“Our customs office has long been in this area, it does not relate to the closure of the highway,” he said.

Paktika is connected with capital Kabulinfo-icon through Ghazni and Paktia highways but both the routes are insecure and as a result local residents are in great trouble.

mds/ma

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