By Khalid Zerai
NANGARHAR -- Residents of Batikot District, Nangarhar Province, have taken up arms and ousted the Taliban after the militants demanded they stop working with the government.
Such popular uprisings against the Taliban and the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) have taken place in Achin, Pacheragam, Kot and other districts of Nangarhar, expelling the militants. Afghan forces have been later deployed to such areas to maintain security.
Residents in the Chardehi area of Batikot are the latest to take the fight to the Taliban, forcing the militants out with the help of Afghan security forces in two days of clashes starting May 8.
Just five years ago, Batikot, which is situated along the Jalalabad-Torkham highway and is 20 kilometres from Jalalabad city, was considered a Taliban stronghold.
Nasir Ahmad, 33, a member of the uprising in Chardehi said he took up arms against the Taliban after they killed local elders and youth.
"The Taliban told our elders that those working with the government should stop... or leave the area," he told Salaam Times.
"Early [May 8], the Taliban came for a villager to take him away," he said. "Residents gave resistance, and the Taliban opened fire on them, and then civilians took out whatever arms they had and started fighting."
"Six of our villagers were martyred, and 15 others were injured, while many of [the Taliban] were also killed," he said, adding that "some of [the militants] fled Chardehi after the defeat".
Now local residents are facing off with the Taliban in the Barikab area of Batikot, according to Ahmad.
Seddiqullah, 32, another uprising member, said the whole district must be cleared of any Taliban presence.
"Chardehi, where the fighting erupted was a stronghold of the Taliban. They were doing everything from here... including planning for attacks, car bombings and suicide attacks," he told Salaam Times. "But everything was demolished for them."
Nangarhar Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal, who resigned from his post May 13, met with residents in Chardehi on May 10.
"I am proud of you. You showed courage and cleared the large area of Chardehi from the presence of the enemy," he told the gathering. "Look, we are also here; all these soldiers are yours, and they will defend you."
"It is a good start. As a nation, you can do anything," he said. "You cleared your areas of their presence... let's make a commitment that you will always do so, and we are behind you."
"Others should also learn from you and make sacrifices to have a comfortable life," he said.
Mangal assured residents that the provincial government would implement reconstruction projects and would establish new security posts in Chardehi as well as in other areas.
For 12 years, the district was under the control of the Taliban, who kept residents in darkness by blocking educational, health and economic facilities, he said.
"But now residents' lives will return to normal -- I assure you that the enemy is on the run," he said.
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