KUNDUZ -- Afghan forces in a joint operation on April 9 liberated Khamab District of Jawzjan Province from the Taliban, who had captured the area in 2018.
Clearing operations are still under way because inclement weather slowed their progress, said Abdul Marouf Azar, a spokesman for the Jawzjan governor, adding that door-to-door searches are proceeding as Taliban fighters have taken refuge in a number of local residents' houses.
The operations have left 31 Taliban fighters dead, including Mullah Abdul Rahim, also known as Chopan, and another 24 wounded, Azar said on April 13 (Monday).
In the latest fighting, Afghan forces repelled a Taliban attack Thursday (April 16) in Khamab District, killing at least seven militants and wounding four others, the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army said in a statement.
Because of their fear of the Taliban, more than 100 families moved from Khamab District to Qarqin District, neighbouring villages and Sheberghan, the provincial capital, said Azar.
A town called Muhajerin has been established in Sheberghan where war-affected families may settle briefly, he added.
"Now, residents displaced by war from Muradian, Darzab, Khamab, Qush Tepa and Mangjik districts live in this town," added Azar. "They will return to their homes once security becomes normal in their area."
The Taliban established a type of taxation system in Khamab District, said Rozi Murad, a local resident.
"The Taliban forced businesspeople, tradesmen, farmers, carpet sellers and fishermen to give them ushr and zakat," said Murad.
Civilians had no option option other than giving money to the Taliban, he said.
"A house where four married men lived [with their wives] each had to give 500-1,000 AFN ($6.50-$13) a month to the Taliban," said Haji Hafizullah, an elder from Khamab District who has moved with his family to Sheberghan, the provincial capital.
"The Taliban forced the businesspeople and shopkeepers who owned land in this district to pay them a monthly tax; otherwise, their land would be confiscated," he said.
Hafizullah said that he is preparing to return to his district now that Afghan security forces have regained control.
Development and rehabilitation activities stalled in the district when the Taliban were in control, said Babur Ishchi, chairman of the Jawzjan provincial council.
"During the Taliban's rule, the public had poor access to electricity, [health] clinics, roads, bridges, culverts and other facilities," said Ishchi.
Ishchi called on the government to provide essential services to Khamab District following its recapture from the Taliban.
Rehabilitation and development activities will resume after troops have cleared all insecure areas of Khamab District of the Taliban, said Abdul Qader Malia, acting governor of Jawzjan Province.
"Clearing operations are under way in the villages and along the route to Khamab District, and the remaining areas will soon be cleared," he added.
"Although some [rehabilitation] work, which isn't enough, has been delivered in the district, we have started to cater to residents' needs," he said.
"Once the cleaning and search operations end in the villages of Khamab District, we will establish new checkpoints to prevent the resurgence of the rebels," said Mohammad Hanif Rezayee, a spokesman for the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army.