JALALABAD -- Despite pledging to move forward on peace talks with the Afghan government at the negotiation table in Doha, the Taliban has intensified attacks across Afghanistan.
To prevent the Taliban's continued slaughter of civilians, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), led by the Afghan National Army (ANA) have launched operations against the Taliban.
Between November 26 and December 1, joint Afghan forces cleared the Taliban from six villages in Dawlat Shah District, Laghman Province, according to officials.
"We launched this operation after the Taliban first attacked checkpoints of the Local Police, seizing three of them," Brig. Gen. Zalmai Nabard, commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade and leader of the operation, told reporters in Loi Kalai area of Dawlat Shah District.
The government recaptured all the checkpoints and cleared six previously Taliban-held villages of the insurgents, he said.
"We have killed 30 Taliban fighters in the last couple of days including five key commanders and injured 10 others," Nabard said. "We have seized many areas from the Taliban, and we will clear the rest."
The operation will continue until the entire district is free of the Taliban, he said.
The heightened attacks by the Taliban drew criticism from Afghans who called out the group for its hypocrisy in negotiating for peace in Qatar with the Afghan government while continuing to launch assaults that kill or injure civilians.
"I can't understand this. On one hand, the Taliban talk about making peace, but on the other, they have greatly intensified the conflict," said Anwarullah Gulab, a resident of Dawlat Shah District. "Whenever I go to Dawlat Shah, there is fighting all the time. In the past, it was not like this."
"Making peace while at the same time fighting -- I have not seen this anywhere in the world," he said.
"Many people had to flee their homes in this cold winter and were forced to seek refuge in the homes of total strangers. All of them are poor," Gulab said. "It is all because of the Taliban. They attacked checkpoints, and now the government wants to retake these checkpoints, hence the fighting."
"I call on the Taliban to stop fighting. Peace talks are ongoing in Qatar. If the peace talks fail, then it is up to them whether they want to fight or not, but right now it is not the time for war," he said.
Peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar are ready to advance to the next stage, both sides said Wednesday (December 2).
The meetings, which began September 12, had been bogged down by disputes on the agenda, the basic framework of discussions and religious interpretations.
Residents vow to stand up to militants
The Taliban continue to make life miserable for Afghans, said Qarib Ur Rahman, a shopkeeper in Dawlat Shah District.
"Wherever there are Taliban, there is no life," he said. "Our sons and daughters cannot go to school. We have no life. We are thirsty for peace, and the Taliban should end this war. If they could win through war, they would have won by now after all these years."
The operation in Dawlat Shah District should not stop until the Taliban are defeated, said Gulzar Sangarwal, a member of the Laghman Provincial Council.
"When the operation ends and troops have secured all the areas, they should establish new security posts and the government should implement reconstruction projects," he said.
"The operation is going well. Locals have promised that they will stand up to the Taliban and will demand their rights," said Assadullah Dawlatzai, a spokesman for the Laghman governor. "We will set up new posts and secure all areas."
"After the conclusion of the operation, we will implement a number of projects in Dawlat Shah," he said. "We will work to improve lives. We will implement all those construction projects that the Taliban did not allow."