KABUL -- A group of nine Taliban fighters has expressed regret over fighting against the Afghan government and joined the peace process on January 1 in Jawzjan Province.
"Upon realising the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's government, a Taliban leader by the name of Multan, also known as Taarruzi, along with eight fighters under his command -- who for years fought against the people and government in Majid Qaduq village in Dasht-i-Leili and in parts of Qush Tepa District -- gave up war and violence and joined the peace process," Jawzjan Governor Lutfullah Azizi told Salaam Times.
"This Taliban group joined the peace process, bringing along all their equipment and weapons, including seven AK-47s, one PK machine gun, one rocket launcher, three motorcycles, some ammunition and one Humvee vehicle," he said.
"As for the Taliban members who join the peace process, the government provides them with security, financial incentives and employment opportunities," Azizi said.
The former Taliban members expressed regret for their past actions and vowed to fight all enemies of Afghanistan, including the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
"I regret joining the Taliban and the actions that I have taken against my compatriots," Zulfiqar, one of the ex-insurgents who joined the peace process, told Salaam Times. "I do not wish for my country to be further ruined. From now on, I will only fight those who fight against the Afghan government."
"I saw with my own eyes the French, Algerian and Uzbek ISIS members who were fighting in Jawzjan in order to kill Afghans and to destroy Afghanistan," he said. "I pledge that I will fight alongside security forces in order to prevent the destruction of my homeland."
"For two years, I fought on the Taliban side and against the government," said Multan, the leader of the group.
"However, I finally realised the truth and recognised that the Taliban and its goals are false and our actions were detrimental to the public," he told Salaam Times. "Therefore, I joined the Islamic government of Afghanistan to serve our people."
"I call on other Taliban members to lay down their arms, leave the battlefield and work towards the stability of their country," he said.
"Those terrorists who are fighting in Jawzjan should know that residents of Jawzjan Province are the only victims of their fighting," said local resident Khan Mohammad.
"As a result of [terrorists'] activities, dozens of schools have been shut down, thousands of children in our country have been deprived of education and thousands of Jawzjan residents have been displaced and lost the roof over their heads," he told Salaam Times.
"Ordinary [civilians] have always been the main victims of wars waged by armed insurgents," said Mawlawi Mohammad Akram, chairman of the Jawzjan Peace Council.
"War is not the solution," he told Salaam Times. "We say this to those who are fighting in the province of Jawzjan against the Afghan government and the public -- the gates of peace are open to you. Come and join the peace process."
"Nine hundred armed opposition members have joined the peace process since the Peace Council in Jawzjan became operational [in early 2015]," Akram said.
How likely is it that the Taliban will fracture after the recent ceasefire exposed divisions in the group?