JALALABAD -- A group of Taliban and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) fighters and commanders on Monday (January 11) laid down their weapons and surrendered to Afghan forces, stating regret for their past actions.
The 30 militants, who had engaged in fighting in various districts of Nangarhar, gave themselves up to National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces, said Nangarhar Province Governor Ziaulhaq Amarkhail.
"These fighters, 22 Taliban and eight ISIS fighters, had taken up arms against the government," he said. "But as they have now realised that their war was against the country's saviours and citizens, they left the battleground and joined the government."
"The government embraces and welcomes all those who renounce violence," he said.
"Both the Taliban and ISIS have been defeated [in the province]," Amarkhail said. "People can travel to almost all the districts. As peace talks are under way, we call on the fighters to quit fighting and make peace."
Regrets for past actions
Each of the ex-insurgents brought weapons to the surrender ceremony, and some described how they had been tricked into joining the extremist groups, who preyed on their lack of education.
"We were deceived," said Muhammad Farooq, one of the Taliban members who surrendered to the Afghan forces. "We were killing our brothers."
"We were told in our training that those working with the government were all infidels and that we had to do 'jihad' against them," he said.
"But when we understood that it was not true, as everyone is Muslim and we fought against our own brothers, we left the battleground," he said. "We do not want to fight any longer, and we want to live in peace."
"I commanded a unit of 10 fighters in Khogyani District," Farooq said. "I have told other friends as well to quit fighting, because we cannot build this country with such conflicts."
"I regret my past acts, and I will never again fall prey to anyone's tricks," he said. "I will not take a weapon to kill my Afghan brother."
ISIS member Gul Faqir also laid down arms, claiming the extremist group had exploited his lack of education to recruit him into its ranks.
"I was previously a Taliban fighter and then joined ISIS," he said, adding that the group paid him "a lot of money" to fight in its ranks.
"I was illiterate, and they misused my ignorance," he said. "I realise now that I killed my brothers and fought against them."
"Now that I know that it was not a war for Islam, I returned and joined the government," he said.
"I want to live in peace," Faqir added. "My five children remained illiterate, as I thought that secular education was illegitimate. I realise now that I have to send my children back to school."
"I would like to return to a normal life so that my children are not deprived of education, as I do not want them to fall prey to others as I did."
10 surrender in Kunar
Separately, Kunar Province officials on January 10 presented to the media 10 ISIS and five Taliban members who surrendered to government forces.
Two of the group are commanders "who were involved in destructive activities in Chawki, Watapur and Manogai districts", Kunar Governor Mohammad Iqbal Saeed said during the ceremony.
"They surrendered themselves to the NDS, and they each brought one weapon with them," he said.
"ISIS has been defeated in Kunar, and the Taliban do not have the ability to fight face to face," Saeed said. "Our security forces are busy protecting the public and destroying militants."
Mahtabuddin, the former commander of a 10-man ISIS unit, said he had been fighting the government for 11 years.
"I was with the Taliban before, but I switched to ISIS two years ago," he said. "I have now realised that both ISIS and the Taliban come from the same source and that they kill civilians."
"I am glad that we abandoned them and renounced violence," he said. "I want to live in peace after this, and my friends want the same."
"I will not carry a weapon anymore, and I want to live freely with my children," Mahtabuddin said. "I will make my prayers and repent to God to forgive my sins, as I fought many years against my own people."