HERAT -- Dozens of Afghan security personnel freed from a Taliban prison in Badghis Province after a daring commando raid have spoken out about the shocking torture and mistreatment they were subjected to for months on end.
"Fifty-five national army, four commando, one police and two border police personnel are among those released," the Ministry of Defence announced Wednesday (January 29).
Security forces arrested five Taliban fighters, while several others were killed or injured in the nighttime raid in Bala Murghab District Tuesday (January 28), the ministry said, without providing more details.
"The freed forces insisted that they again take weapons and continue fighting against the enemies of peace and stability of Afghanistan and defend people's lives and property," it said.
Acting Defence Minister Asadullah Khalid praised the operation and congratulated the armed forces for their success, adding that the freed troops were transferred to Qala-e-Naw.
Khalid made the comments while introducing Brig. Gen. Hibatullah Alizai, the new commander for the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA), to ANA officers and soldiers in Mazar-e-Sharif.
Surviving torture, inhumane conditions
The Afghan troops who had been held captive in the Taliban's prison for months told shocking stories of the militants' brutal torture and ill treatment.
"I had been in the Taliban's prison for 11 months, and the security forces rescued us without any of us being harmed from a location where the Taliban are strongly in control," said Sgt. Muhammad Ibrahim, who served in Company 3 of the 3rd ANA Battalion in Bala Murghab District.
Ibrahim said he was injured while fighting against the Taliban and was then taken captive by the militants.
"The Taliban were torturing all of us every day," he said. "They would take two of us out and beat us up with a cable while our feet were tied."
"The Taliban didn't give us food, and we remained hungry," he said. "The Taliban prison [roof] collapsed on us, and I broke my foot. There was no medicine so that I could be treated. I have been limping for five months."
"The Taliban collected 8,000 AFN ($104) from each of us every month for food, but they didn't give us enough food," said Muhammad Ibrahim. "They took 80,000 AFN ($1,044) from each of us in less than a year, but they used to give three of us one loaf of bread to share."
"We had to ask our families for money to give to the Taliban," he added.
Sgt. Muzaffar Muradi, who managed logistics for Company 3 of the 3rd ANA Battalion in Bala Murghab, told a similar story.
"The Taliban captured me in Bala Murghab while I was wounded, and they didn't want to treat me at the time," he said. "I got money from my family through someone, and then the Taliban's doctors treated me."
"Although I was wounded, the Taliban beat me up day and night and they chained my feet," he said. "The Taliban didn't give us food and medicine."
"I am very happy that the security forces rescued my friends and me," Muradi said.
Boosting security forces' morale
The rescue at the Taliban's prison in Bala Murghab District was one of the most successful operations undertaken by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) in Badghis Province, Badghis Provincial Governor Abdul Ghafoor Malakzai told reporters January 29 in Qala-e-Naw.
No security forces were injured or killed in the operation, he said.
"Since operations began in recent months in Badghis Province, the Taliban have become much weaker," he said. "They don't have the ability to attack even a checkpoint of the security forces."
"The release of troops from the Taliban's prison has enhanced the morale of security forces, and they have gained confidence that even if they are held captive by the enemy, the heroic Afghan forces are able to rescue them," Malakzai said.
Both troops and civilians are now confident that the ANDSF have the ability to rescue them from Taliban captivity, agreed Gen. Shiraqa Alkozai, chief of intelligence at the Badghis police department.
"The Taliban must know that no matter how robust their prisons and bases are, the security forces will track them down and break down their prisons," Alkozai said.
The success of such operations that destroy Taliban prisons and rescue Afghan security forces raises the spirits of Afghan soldiers and can weaken the Taliban's morale to fight, said Alkozai.
"The security forces' operation that destroyed the Taliban's prison and rescued the heroic sons of Afghanistan made all the Afghan people happy, especially the families of the troops who were freed," Abdul Aziz Baik, chairman of the Badghis provincial council, told reporters.
The security forces have shown their abilities to the Taliban and other terrorist groups, he said.
"The security forces who were held captive by the Taliban stood against the enemy and were prepared to sacrifice their lives to defend their people and country," Baik said. "The sacrifices of these forces are worthy of praise, and all Afghans are indebted to these soldiers."