Security

Taliban militants surrender in Baghlan, cite group 'working for foreigners'

By Hedayatullah

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Local authorities in Baghlan Province present surrendered Taliban militants to the media on May 20 in Pul-i-Khumri. [Baghlan NDS]

KUNDUZ -- Two separate Taliban groups earlier this month surrendered to local authorities in Baghlan Province, say officials.

A 15-strong group led by Mohammad Zaman surrendered on May 20 to the Baghlan provincial office of the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

The resolution of a political impasse between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah led the group to become more optimistic about the future of Afghanistan and to join the peace process, said Zaman.

"As the electoral issues got resolved... we became more hopeful for the future of our families and decided to part ways with the Taliban and join the peace process," he said.

"We were serving with the Taliban in the Toormash area of Tala Wa Barfak District," he said. "We saw that the Taliban's fight amounted to shedding the blood of innocent civilians to benefit the interests of foreigners; therefore, we abandoned the fight."

The militants handed over 15 AK-47 assault rilfes, rocket-propelled grenades, a PKM machine gun and different types of ammunition.

"We are tired of fighting. We were in the mountains every day where there was no food or water," said Mullah Najmuddin, a member of the group and a resident of Tala Wa Barfak.

"I joined the Taliban thinking that I was doing jihad. But as I saw it was not jihad, I regretted my decision and am now ashamed in front of my people," he said.

"I left the Taliban when I realised that they were working for foreigners," said Mullah Mohammaddin, another member of the surrendered group who fought in Kunduz and Baghlan.

"Muslims are being killed on both sides," Mohammaddin said. "I have sinned, and I plead to God and my people to forgive me."

Maintaining security

Another four-man group of Taliban surrendered along with their arms to police on May 9 in Dahna-i-Ghori District.

The militants had been involved in anti-government activities in the district for the last three years, said Baghlan Police Chief Gen. Wais Ahmad Samimi.

"This group realised that the war is not ours but was imposed on us from outside," he said. "Therefore, they laid down their arms."

"With the surrender of this group, other fighters will be encouraged to return to normal life," he added.

The surrendered individuals have committed to co-operating with security forces in maintaining security in their areas, said Abdul Qadim Niazi, the acting governor of Baghlan Province.

"We are trying to provide them the resources to help them defend their people and areas against any aggressor," Niazi said.

"The Taliban have no option but to surrender," he said. "Our security forces are now stronger in terms of professional skills and have the capability to defeat the Taliban."

"We call on all parties involved in the conflict to take advantage of this opportunity, stop fighting and killing each other and join the peace process," he added.

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