KUNDUZ -- A group of 13 Taliban insurgents surrendered to Afghan security forces in Dara-e-Sof District of Samangan Province, saying they can no longer tolerate the group's atrocities against the Afghan people.
The group surrendered to authorities on December 13.
"I served with the Taliban for four years as a commander of 12 fighters in Dara-e-Sof District," Mullah Faisal told Radio Sima-e-Sulh on December 14 at the provincial police headquarters.
"In the beginning, I thought what I was doing was 'jihad', but I later realised that the Taliban are involved in doing things against Islam," he said. "As this made me uncomfortable, I contacted the National Directorate of Security."
The Taliban extort money in various forms, Mullah Faisal said. They collect ushr, zakat and illegal taxes from truck drivers, construction firm owners, shopkeepers and tradesmen. They also collect illegitimate electricity bills.
"I couldn't tolerate the group's atrocities, harassment of and violence against my people," he said. "My subordinates [fighters] and I decided that we would no longer fall prey [to the Taliban's tricks] and would join the government."
"As we can see, peace talks are nearing a settlement, and if God is willing, the war will end in the country," he said. "This is why most of the Taliban are optimistic about peace."
The former militants surrendered with small arms and heavy weapons and promised to stand with the Afghan people and government.
"The Taliban's illegitimate and inhumane acts and their atrocities have caused us to abandon the Taliban," said Abdul Hakim Fidayee, one of the Taliban members who surrendered.
"I am ashamed of fighting against my government and people as we didn't know which direction we were heading," he said.
"The Taliban have been divided in groups and subgroups," he added, referring to internal rifts.
Say 'yes' to peace
"The surrender of the group of 13 will affect the morale of the rest of the Taliban members, as the rest of the group in other parts of Samangan will feel encouraged to join the government," said Sediq Azizi, spokesperson for the Samangan governor.
The local government will add these surrendered fighters to public uprising forces, provide security to them and improve their livelihood, said Azizi.
"Not only the residents of Samangan but also residents of most of the provinces have been fed up with the war and violence, and they are waiting every day for the ceasefire and peace," said Ghulam Muhammad Rasooli, a civil society activist in Samangan Province.
"On the one hand, the Taliban convene peace talks with Americans, but on the other hand, they continue to kill innocent civilians," he said. "This sends a message that [the Taliban] don't believe in peace."
"We call on the international community to put pressure on the Taliban to accept a ceasefire and put an end to the war so that we can live in peace," he said.
The door is open to those who want to renounce violence and join the peace process, Azizi said, adding that the government believes in intra-Afghan peace.
"The government has always invited the Taliban to peace, and it has always asked [the Taliban] to say yes to peace," he said.