KUNDUZ -- Taliban militants have wrought havoc on residents' lives in Balkh and Kunduz provinces, destroying private businesses and public facilities and using civilians' homes as bases, local officials say.
The destruction has displaced thousands of residents and caused damage costing millions of Afghanis.
During the past month, the Taliban destroyed more than 50 houses on the outskirts of Kunduz city, said Ghulam Rabbani Rabbani, a member of the Kunduz provincial council.
"The Taliban have unfortunately destroyed private houses, burnt down shops and destroyed public facilities in Kunduz, inflicting heavy financial losses on our people," he said Monday (August 2).
The Taliban used civilian houses as bases in Kandak Enayat, Pul-e-Safid, Turkman Ha, Doblulah, Seh Darak and other parts of Kunduz city, he said.
The Taliban burned down the largest flour factory in the Chella Mazar area of Kunduz city, during an offensive against security forces on July 23, said Ghulam Ali Eidizadah, chief of the Kunduz Directorate of Industry and Commerce.
The damage cost the owner of the company more than $1 million, said Eidizadah.
"All of the machinery of a flour production company called Tayebzada, which a private businessman established 10 years ago, was destroyed by the Taliban," he said.
"Hundreds of workers of the factory have lost their jobs and income because of the loss of the building and the burning of all machinery and technical equipment," he added.
The Taliban have inflicted heavy financial losses on residents of Kunduz province during a month-long battle and have destroyed a number of public facilities, said Esmatullah Muradi, spokesperson for the provincial governor.
The Gultepa district administrative building, several bridges and dozens of residential houses and private shops on the outskirts of Kunduz city, are among the facilities and property wiped out by the Taliban, he said.
In Kaldar district, Balkh province, residents reported that the Taliban flattened private houses.
Mohammad Nazar Qoli, a resident of Tazarigh village in the district, said most of the 200 houses in his village have been destroyed by Taliban violence.
"The Taliban destroyed my house by placing mines in it," he said.
"Ten to 20 houses have been destroyed in each village," said Sher Ali Haidari, a resident of the district. "The Taliban made holes in the walls and fought against government forces from there."
After seizing Kaldar district on July 4, the Taliban looted all administrative equipment from government offices and destroyed all documents and records of the district, according to local officials.
"They have left nothing, neither in the district office nor in the police headquarters nor in the district branch of the National Directorate of Security (NDS)," said Kaldar District Governor Mohammad Yusuf Ghulamzadah. "There is no table, chair, sofa, mattress or even a single cup left."
The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) liberated Kaldar district from the Taliban on July 26.
"When the security forces recaptured the district, we all checked the district facilities together," he said.
"Unfortunately, there was nothing but destruction."
During the search and clearance operation in Kaldar district, the ANDSF killed more than 20 Taliban militants and wounded 16 others, said Col. Fazluddin Najamzadah, the security chief of the Balkh police department.
"Information obtained by reconnaissance teams shows that Chechens, Kazakhs and citizens of other countries were present in Kaldar district -- some of their bodies remain on the battlefield," he said.