HERAT -- Following a recent escalation in Taliban violence, more than 1,000 residents of Badghis province on Saturday (June 19) took up arms against the insurgent group in the provincial capital of Qala-e-Naw.
They declared they will no longer let the Taliban attack civilians and security forces, with some saying they will join the security forces in their fight.
In these difficult times, young men have taken up arms and are fighting alongside the security forces, said Badghis resident Mohammad Yousuf Sazesh.
"We have taken up arms to defend the country, the people, territorial integrity, and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," he said. "We are ready to defend our soil in any part of Afghanistan and fight against the Taliban."
The people have risen against the Taliban because they were killing innocent people and security forces every day, said Badghis resident Mohammad Ashraf.
"We are defending our security forces, our homeland and our honour," he said, adding that the people stand with the security forces against the Taliban.
People should have full confidence in their young men and in the security forces, said another Badghis resident, Wahid Mohebzada.
"I am ready to defend the people of Badghis and other Afghans against the Taliban until the last drop of blood," he said, adding that people should not be deceived by the group's propaganda.
"I will stand by our security forces and support them as long as I am alive," he vowed.
Support for the state
Badghis residents have risen up against the Taliban spontaneously to support their state and security forces, said Amir Shah Nayebzada, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Badghis who spoke at the Saturday gathering.
"All of the young men who have taken up arms are waiting for the government’s marching order to start their operations against the Taliban in Badghis," he said.
"The current system in the country is the result of years of sacrifices and effort on the part of the Afghan people," Nayebzada said. "We will never let the Taliban threaten our state."
The Afghan people are ready to defend their government whenever it faces challenges, said Mohammad Naser Nazari of the Badghis provincial council.
"With increased Taliban attacks, the people were forced to take up arms and not allow this barbaric group to further spill the blood of innocent Afghans," he said.
Whenever and wherever the government and security forces need support, the people of Afghanistan are ready -- especially the youth -- to go to the battlefields and fight against the Taliban, Nazari said.
The public uprising against the Taliban shows people are tired of the tyranny and brutality of the Taliban and makes clear their support for the government and security forces, said Badghis governor Hesamuddin Shams.
"We welcome popular support, and I am confident that this public uprising against the Taliban will help improve the security situation," he added.
Defending the Afghan people
Residents other provinces, such as Takhar, Balkh and Baghlan in the north, and Parwan in central Afghanistan, also have taken up arms to fight the Taliban, TOLO News reported Monday.
In Badghis, security forces have repelled most of the recent Taliban attacks, and the militants have suffered heavy casualties, local security officials said.
The Taliban intended to capture some districts and even Qala-e-Naw, but security forces pushed back their attacks and inflicted heavy casualties against them, Badghis Chief of Police Col. Sher Aqa Alokozai said Sunday.
"The Taliban do not have the ability to fight the security forces directly, therefore, they use civilians and their houses as shields," he said.
"The Taliban have obtained advanced weapons and ammunition from their external backers and attacked districts and parts of Qala-e-Naw with false confidence, but all of their attacks failed," he added.
Security forces are defending the Afghan people and the country in difficult times, said Fahim Intezar, a civil society activist in Qala-e-Naw.
"The security forces of the country have proven they are stronger than the Taliban and can defend the country and their people," he added.
"The sacrifices and effort of our security forces in defending the motherland and people will be written in history, and future generations will be proud of these brave forces," Intezar said.