NANGARHAR -- Afghan security forces have launched military operations in Sherzad District, Nangarhar Province, clearing the Taliban from areas previously under militant control for many years.
"More than 40 Taliban fighters have so far been killed and tens of them injured in joint forces operations led by the National Army's 4th Brigade," Lt. Haroon Yousafzai, spokesperson for the 201st Silab Corps, said November 10.
"Security along the route from Jalalabad city to Sherzad District has also improved, and ordinary people no longer have any problem traveling on the road," he said.
Security forces launched the operations on October 26.
The operations are ongoing, but will proceed slowly in order to avoid civilian casualties, said Nangarhar Police spokesperson Mubarez Atal.
"We have made the route secure and cleared 13 small and large villages of the Taliban," he said. "We will continue these operations until we expel all the Taliban from the district and ensure security."
Building new checkpoints
The military operations are proceeding according to plan, and new security checkpoints and bases will be created in Sherzad District once the operations are complete, Nangarhar Governor Shah Mahmood Miakhil told reporters at the provincial headquarters of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on November 9.
"Seven large bases and 18 new checkpoints of the joint security forces will be built along the road leading to Sherzad District and other important areas," he said. "Additionally, public uprising forces will also be mobilised to guard their areas."
"People were traveling with a lot of trouble on the road to our district, and those who served in the government -- especially in the security forces -- couldn't use the road at all," said Hamidullah, 29, a resident of Sherzad District.
"It is great that the operations were launched and the road was opened," he said. "We are very happy that our security forces were able to open the road and started building checkpoints."
"The government should now implement rehabilitation projects for us too because our district has remained deprived," he said. "Our schools, clinics and everything are in a bad shape. They need to be restored to provide regular services."
"We support our soldiers and we will also work hard to protect our areas," Hamidullah said.
"The Taliban... committed violence. We weren't able to stop them, and it is great the government launched the operations," said Faqir Muhammad, another resident of the district. "We want the government to keep the areas they capture permanently secure and install checkpoints in those areas."
Development projects planned
Sherzad District has not had much development work in the past 15 years, said Ajmal Omar, a member of the Nangarhar Provincial Council.
"People are happy with the operations and they welcome them," he said. "Our forces have captured many areas and they are proceeding. Once the operations end, the government needs to give a lot of attention to this area and implement development projects there."
Ataullah Khogyani, spokesperson for the Nangarhar governor, explained the government's plans for Sherzad District.
"Special development projects will be implemented in Sherzad District after the operations, and the district will see a lot of rehabilitation work," he said. "The district will receive support in health, education and other essential areas."