Fed up with Taliban, Parwan residents torch militants' hideout

By Najibullah

An Afghan woman walks through a bazaar in Parwan Province on February 7. Residents in the province on August 21 burned down a Taliban base. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

An Afghan woman walks through a bazaar in Parwan Province on February 7. Residents in the province on August 21 burned down a Taliban base. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Residents of Parwan Province, fed up with the Taliban's atrocities, set fire to a secret militant base in Shinwari District.

"In Qorhir village of the Qala area in Shinwari District, local residents set fire to a Taliban base with all its equipment at 11pm," said Wahida Shahkar, spokesperson for the Parwan governor.

"We don't have information about the Taliban's casualties at the incident, but all pieces of equipment on the base have been destroyed," said Shahkar of the August 21 event.

"The reason behind this move by the residents might be that they are fed up and don't want the Taliban to operate in their areas," she said.

"The people of Parwan do not want to support anti-government elements or let the group [the Taliban] stay in their area," she added. "Residents of Parwan undoubtedly assist the government, and the government also supports those who do not provide any help to anti-government elements."

"Civilians have arrived at a consensus that this group [the Taliban] is a threat," said Hasiba Efat, a former member of the Parwan provincial council and civil society activist. "They don't recognise human dignity or values and don't respect citizens' rights."

The recent incident "was a spontaneous move in which civilians set fire to the Taliban's base", said Efat.

"Civilian discontent with opposition groups is obvious," Efat added. "They have shown their hatred for anti-government elements in the form of public uprisings in the past."

"Residents are extremely upset with the atrocities of the Taliban, and they no longer want the Taliban in their areas," said Muhammad Nabi, a resident of Shinwari District.

"Civilians have always expressed their hatred for the Taliban, and setting fire to the Taliban's base shows the utmost desperation and anger," he added. "Ordinary civilians can't do anything more than this."

Promise of support

Nabi called on the government to listen to the voice of the residents of this district and to launch operations to clear the area of the Taliban.

"The people of Parwan have stood against the armed opposition... and they have supported the government with one voice," said Abdul Zaher Salangi, a member of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament) from Parwan.

"The government and the Ministry of Defence have beaten the enemy and prevented their attacks on a number of other districts of Parwan, but as the enemy hasn't been fully annihilated, we want [the government] to launch cleaning operations," he said, adding that locals are ready to provide support.

Efat, the civil society activist, also called for operations to expel the Taliban from Parwan Province.

"We have always wanted [the government] to recapture the areas from the [armed] government opposition," she said.

"Because there are no schools, health centres and other services in the areas under the group [the Taliban]'s control, residents, especially women, are deprived of education and other services there," said Efat.

The Taliban have already seen heavy casualties this year in Parwan, and a number of their commanders have been killed, according to the Ministry of Defence.

In Parwan, the militants have a presence only in some parts of Seyagerd and Shinwari districts, according to Shahkar, the governor's spokesperson.

"Anytime and anywhere enemies operate, spread violence and fear, and commit suicide attacks and killings, we respond to them in Parwan and anywhere else in the country," said Fawad Aman, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence.

"We are in a combat situation, and both sides are engaged in fighting, but we'll soon launch our operations," said Aman.

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