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Caught in crossfire, hundreds of Laghman families flee

Caught in crossfire, hundreds of Laghman families flee

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Sep 24, 2020 - 18:46

MEHRARLAM (Pajhwok): The security situation has worsened in the Alishang district of eastern Laghman province, compelling hundreds of families to leave their homes, sources said on Thursday.

Local officials say they delayed a major security operation plan because the Talibaninfo-icon have entered people’s homes to use them as bastions.

Local residents say apart from Wednesday and Thursday clashes continued for the past two weeks between security forces and Taliban militants. They said people’s homes were hit in the crossfire.

The security situation worsened after several security posts were overrun by Taliban militants near the district center and the road between Alishang and Dawlat Shah districts was closed against security forces and government officials.

The insurgents have seized area spanning six kilometers near the district center and have even captured a post about one kilometer from the district headquarters.

The road between Mehtarlam, the provincial capital, and Alishang district has become dangerous as Taliban militants have emplaced landmines on the route.

A team of Pajhwok reporters, who travelled to the district, observed that womeninfo-icon and children had left their homes and only one male family member was left behind by each family to protect the homes.

Abdul Majeed, who fled home with family from Kotali area to Mehtarlam two days ago, said all families only rescued themselves by fleeing and left behind everything including household animals.

He said the government was yet to conduct any survey to know the number of displaced families who had taken refuge with relatives and friends in Mehtarlam. He said the displaced families faced numerous problems.

Najibullah, who spent the night at home alone, was heading to Mehtarlam at around 11am on Thursday with other villagers, said the Taliban had brought under their control five kilometers of area.

“In our village there are 300 families who all have been displaced. Similarly people from Manjan, Kohna Ghazniabad, Ghazi Abad and Watan Gat villages have fled their homes.”

Another resident, Suliman, who stayed home, told Pajhwok that they witnessed a two-day lull in fighting and before that there had been clashes day and night.

Alishang district chief Qazi Habib Rahman Momand told Pajhwok that about 200 families had fled their homes and the operation against militants was stopped because the rebels used people’s homes as bastions.

“Local Taliban are less in number but others have arrived from other provinces and they have formed three groups to protect their frontlines and their aim is to seek leverage in the peace talks and show they are still strong.”

Afghan National Army commander in the area, Col. Abdullah Jan, said they stopped their operation in order to protect civilians.

“We started the operation four days ago but it is the first phase. We have the upper hand and will resume the operation soon.”

Local officials said a survey of the displaced families would be launched soon and the deserving families would be extended urgent assistance.

The Taliban have so far said nothing in this regard.

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