Following rout of Taliban, peace returns to Farah city

By Omar

After several failed Taliban attempts to take over Farah city, Farah Province -- as recently as earlier this year -- the residents are now enjoying peace and security. [Hafizullah Noorzad]

HERAT -- Residents of Farah city are now enjoying peace and security after the Taliban launched numerous failed attempts at seizing the city from March to September this year.

In the militants' latest attempt on September 6, the Taliban were forced to withdraw after suffering casualties at the hands of security forces.

"Two months ago, there was fighting every day in Farah city as the Taliban killed security forces and civilians," said Shakaib Ahmadi, a resident of Farah city. "We couldn't sleep at night for fear and sounds of gunshots, but now it is peaceful and we don't have any worries."

"Security in Farah city has improved compared to the past," said Abdul Satar Majidi, another resident of Farah city. "There were battles and killings in the past, but now the situation has become better."


The Farah city bazaar is shown November 15. [Courtesy of Hafizullah Noorzad]

"In the past, the Taliban were even present in [certain] parts of Farah city, and they even had checkpoints that didn't allow workers to commute freely to the city," said Majidi. "But now the city is secure during the day and night."

Over the past months, many residents escaped to other provinces like Herat and Nimroz because of fear of the Taliban, but they have now returned to Farah city and resumed their normal lives, he said.

"Two months ago, the Taliban were present in police districts of Farah city, and they attacked security forces and civilians every day," said Hamidullah Hamidi, a local reporter in Farah city. "At night, the Taliban had checkpoints in parts of the city where they searched vehicles."

Security in the city has been progressing by the day for the past two months, during which it hasn't experienced any Taliban attacks or battles, he said.

Heavy Taliban casualties

Over the past two months, Afghan and international forces have killed almost 100 militants in the province, including several commanders.

"[Afghan] security and defence forces were able to annihilate 95 Taliban terrorists including their chief of military commission for country's 20 provinces, the head of intelligence and the Taliban shadow governor for Anar Dara District," said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for the Farah police.

Security and defence forces in the province have captured 12 Taliban fighters in the same period and handed them over for prosecution, he added.

"Large areas have been cleared of the Taliban. These areas include Qala-e-Zaman, Rigi, Mahajerin, Gurji, Bagh-e-Pul, Ginahkan, Shepal Koh, Sultan Miragha, Dehak and parts of Pusht Rod District," he said.

The Taliban have resorted to planting land mines that endanger innocent civilians' lives instead of fighting security forces, said Mohib.

In the two past months, "security forces have detected and neutralised 116 mines throughout Farah Province", he added.

"In order to prevent the enemy from entering Farah city, we have strengthened the security ring by building more checkpoints on the outskirts of the city," added Mohib. "Troops soon will launch extensive operations against the Taliban in the districts of Farah Province."

The Taliban no longer have the ability to attack Farah city and district centres of the province, said Farah governor's spokesperson Ghulam Farooq Barakzai.

Commitment to security

"I call on traders and investors of Farah Province not to move their bases from Farah," said Gen. Samad Shams, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) director for Farah Province. "Representing security agencies, I reassure the residents of Farah that the Taliban don't have the courage to come closer to Farah again as they have been beaten to the extent that they have lost the ability to fight."

"Residents of Farah have resumed business and reconstruction, children go to school in safety and business transactions have flourished in the city," added Shams. "We reassure residents that the terrorists can no longer challenge their security."

"After new appointments in the security sector of Farah took place, and [new] generals from Farah -- based on the demand of Farah elders and civilians -- started their work, we've witnessed progress in security," said Dadullah Qani, a member of the Farah provincial council.

He was referring to the appointments on September 14 of Gen. Fazal Ahmad Sarwari as Farah police chief and Gen. Shams as Farah NDS director.

"We want to expand security from Farah city to the villages in the districts so that civilians can resume their normal lives," he added. "We demand the launch of air and ground operations on the Taliban."

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