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Offensive soon to drive rebels from Gardez-Paktika road

Offensive soon to drive rebels from Gardez-Paktika road

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Jun 07, 2018 - 17:40

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): A military operation would be launched soon to drive militants from the Gardez-Paktika highway in Zurmat district of southeastern Paktia province, officials said Thursday.

The highway has been under Talibaninfo-icon control over the past several years. The route passes through Zurmat district where the rebels hold sway and government officials could not travel on it.

Maj. Gen. Shaur Gul, commander of the 203rd Thunder Military Corps, told Pajhwok Afghan News that they had planned a clearing operation for reopening of the Gardez-Paktika highway and deploying security posts.

He said many security posts had already been deployed in parts of the highway to keep militants at bay.

“We have the plan to launch a clearing operation in Zurmat district and task police with ensuring security of Gardez-Paktika highway, this route would be totally reopened after the plan is implemented,” he said.

Few months back, the governor of neighboring Paktika province complained about security problems on the Gardez-Paktika highway during a security meeting on the southeastern level.

The governor, Elyas Wahdat, had said that two highways connecting Paktika with the central region faced security problems and Paktika was almost besieged.

One of the highways passes through Andar district of Ghazni province and another through Zurmat district.

“Ground routes to Paktika province have many security problems and people are obligated to use flights, our province is besieged, this issue has created many problems for us and are keeping our province backward, at least one highway should be opened so people can openly travel,” Wahdat had said.

Paktia governor, Shamim Khan Katawazi, also stressed increased security on the Gardez-Paktika highway and said Afghan forces would improve security in Zurmat district for construction of the highway.

He said Zurmat was the only district which was relatively more unstable but security could be improved after dividing it into two parts, he said.

The Gardez-Paktika highway is around 70 kilometers long, with 50 kilometers portion of it passing through Zurmat district.

Construction project of the Gardez-Zurmat highway was approved two months ago, but its implementation delayed due to security problems.

mds/ma

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