HERAT -- Hundreds of Taliban militants attacked Khashrod district of Nimroz province on June 13, destroying dozens of houses and shops and burning copies of the Holy Koran before Afghan security forces repulsed them, say provincial officials.
The Taliban burned almost all shops in the district bazaar and a number of houses nearby, said Nimroz Governor Zmaryalai Ahadi, adding that the militants "burned dozens of copies of the Holy Koran in a shop in Khashrod bazaar".
The Taliban do not respect the holiness of the Koran -- the words of Allah Almighty -- and their actions show the deceptive nature of their so-called jihad, he said.
The Taliban have gone so far as to set the Holy Koran ablaze instead of honouring it, said Ali Ahmad Mahajer, a resident of Zaranj city, the capital of Nimroz.
The Taliban burned everything in Khashrod district, and many families have lost their property, he added.
Abdul Sattar, who has run a shop in Khashrod bazaar for the past 26 years, said he lost all of his property.
The Taliban have destroyed civilians' livelihoods in Khashrod district, he said, adding that residents lost almost everything they had.
"We call on the government to rebuild our shops and houses," Sattar said.
Afghans do not expect anything other than devastation and despair from the Taliban, he added.
"All my property and assets were burnt in the Taliban attack, and now I owe more than 500,000 AFN [$6,369], and I do not know how to repay this debt," said Gul Ahmad, another resident of Khashrod district.
The Taliban used rockets and bombs to attack Khashrod bazaar, he added.
Taliban attacks on public assets are not limited to Nimroz province.
On June 15, the Taliban blew up a district building with a powerful explosive device after attacking the centre of Anar Dara district in Farah province.
A video circulating on social media showed how the Taliban blew up the building while chanting "Allahu akbar".
Enemy of Afghan Muslims
The Taliban's burning of the Koran has sparked outrage among religious scholars across Afghanistan.
Burning copies of the Holy Koran is a major offence and cannot be justified at all, said Mawlawi Abdul Ghafoor Abbasi, a religious scholar in Firoz Koh city, the capital of Ghor province.
"We strongly condemn the burning of copies of the Holy Koran during a recent attack by the Taliban militants in Nimroz province," he said. "We urge the Taliban to refrain from committing these crimes and violating Islamic values."
Anyone who does not respect the sanctity of the Holy Koran and burns it is not a Muslim, he said.
The Taliban's desecration of the Holy Koran undermines their claims of being faithful Muslims, said Mawlawi Abdullah Hussaini, a religious cleric in Qala-e-Naw city, the capital of Badghis province.
Respecting the Holy Koran and following its instructions are obligatory for all Muslims, but the Taliban have done neither, he said.
"Burning copies of the Holy Koran is not acceptable, and the Taliban must understand that they will pay a heavy price for their crime," he added.
The Taliban must realise that they have lost people's trust by burning the Holy Koran while claiming to be Muslim and that they can no longer be part of Afghan society, said Mohammad Nasir Akbari, a resident of Zaranj city.
Even non-Muslims respect the Holy Koran and do not harm it, but the Taliban do so while they kill dozens of Afghan Muslims every day under false claims of "jihad", he said.
The Taliban are an extremist group and must understand that they cannot impose their un-Islamic and radical beliefs on the Afghan people, he added.