KUNDUZ -- About 200 residents of Darzab District in Jawzjan Province, an area mostly controlled by the Taliban, participated in a public uprising against the insurgent outfit for three days starting on December 13 after militants killed two college students and injured two more for unknown reasons.
Following the Taliban attack on December 12, residents "rose up against the Taliban in a reaction to this act, and they expelled the militants from their villages," Mohammad Hanif Rezayee, a spokesman for the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA), said a day after the incident.
The district centre and some villages in the area remain under Taliban control.
"The Taliban shot these students in the district centre as they were on their way home," said Rezayee.
The militant group has oppressed civilians under various pretexts in Darzab District and local inhabitants felt the need to express their anger and show they are fed up with the Taliban's violent acts, Rezayee added.
"During the third day of their uprising, residents of the district were carrying their farming tools such as pickaxes and shovels while protesting against the Taliban," said Abdul Marouf Azar, a spokesman for the Jawzjan governor.
"These angry residents voluntarily participated in the protests and called on the Taliban to put an end to the killing of civilians and their atrocities," he added.
"As the Taliban have turned civilians' homes into their bases and used the inhabitants as human shields, they have committed various atrocities against them during the military's operations," he said.
Calls to 'dismantle' Taliban
The only path forward for the country is peace, said tribal elders and other residents.
"The Taliban should renounce violence because it destroys our people, deprives our youth of an education and stops the rebuilding and development of our country," said Abdul Sami Hazrati, a resident of Jawzjan Province.
"War is not a solution," he added. "The Taliban should make peace, as unity and peace are in our favour."
"We support the public uprising in Darzab District, and we hope such movements take place in various parts of the country," said Sikander Ayubi, a tribal elder in Sar-e-Pul Province.
"Protests are a civil right, and such uprisings against the Taliban can dismantle the group," Ayubi added.
"I call on the Afghan people to mobilise against the group and say no to their violence," he said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Sultan Muhammad Yaqobi, a civil society activist in Sar-e-Pul Province.
"We strongly support and defend the voluntary movement that the residents of Darzab have started," he said. "If they need our support, we can go to Darzab and raise our voices jointly with them."
Earlier, residents of Kohistanat District of Sar-e-Pul Province also protested against the Taliban. Members of the militant outfit fired on the protesters, leaving four civilians dead.
More military operations planned
The Ministry of Defence is aiming to rescue civilians from the atrocities of the Taliban in Darzab District, said Rezayee of the 209th Shaheen Corps.
"We cleared many parts of Darzab District during the joint operations of the ANA, NDS, National Police and commando forces over the past month," he said.
"Our operations couldn't completely clear the area because of the cold weather and mines scattered on the road," he said. "Some of the areas are still under the group's control, and they harm and oppress civilians."
The Ministry of Defence plans to resume operations in the district and clear all the areas of the Taliban once the weather improves and once mine-clearing teams secure all the roads, said Rezayee.
The operations are set to come as the Taliban brutally killed three women and a man in Balkh Province on December 11, according to Rezayee.
Taliban members entered a house of a civilian during the night in Sholgar District of Balkh Province and fired on members of the family, resulting in the deaths, said Rezayee.