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Badakhshan passengers fret over rising highway robberies

Badakhshan passengers fret over rising highway robberies

Feb 28, 2016 - 16:19

FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): At least five people were killed by armed robbers who also snatched cash and belongings worth more than 30 million afghanis from passengers on the Kabul-Badakhshan highway during the outgoing solar year.

The robberies took place during the past six months on the highway that passes through Takhar, Kunduz and Baghlan provinces. Transport union officials said passenger buses usually travelledat night.

Israel, owner of the Jurm Transport Company in Faizabad, said more than five people, including a judge of the Kabul appellant court, were killed by highwaymen and militants in Khanabad district of northeastern Kunduz province.

He told Pajhwok Afghan News that an Afghan National Army (ANA) officer and a soldier were also killed on the route.Another ANA officer and a former jihadi commander, Dawood, were disembarked from a bus and shot dead by militants in the same area.

Transport companies’ owners said public goods worth more than 20 million afghanis and 10 million afghanis in cash had been snatched over the past 11 months by armed robbers on the Kabul-Badakhshan highway.

Qari Niamatullah, director of Ayaran Khurasan Transportation Union, said three buses of the union had been looted in the Qabr Qazi area of Kunduz province in the past four months.The robbers also snatched 50,000 afghanis the driver had collected from passengers in fare in addition to ornaments from women.

Niamatullah added last week a driver, who did not stop his bus, was shot in the chest by the highwaymen. He is currently under medical treatment at a hospital in Kabul.

Proprietors of Nawi Amo, Khawak-i-Panjsher, Bazarak-i-Pansher and Setara-i-Khurasan companies confirmed their buses were looted on the Takhar-Kunduz and Kunduz-Baghlan highways. The outlaws allegedly looted tens of thousands of afghanis from passengers and the driver each time, they said.

Wahidullah, a bus driver, said: “I am personally against travel after 6pm, but unhealthy competition among transport companies is forcing us to do so.”He believed the problem could be resolved if security officials and the Ministry of Transport press the companies.

Badakhshan Civil Society Association (BCSA) also opposed night travel. BCSA head, Saifur Rahman Sais, said: “I have asked representatives of transport firms not to operate passengerbuses at night, but they don’t care. I have also shared the issue with MPs, but they also ignored it because their relatives travel by air.”

He said the Badakhshan-Kabul highway had become dangerous for passengers in recent months. Commuters were either looted or beaten by robbers, he charged.

Sharif, a passenger, said three weeks ago, robbers had stopped them in the Baghlan-i-Markazi district of northern Baghlan province. The gunmen took away all their mobile telephones and money.

“The masked robbers intimidated passengers with their weapons and searched their pockets,” he claimed, accusing the bandits of robbing him of 10,000 afghanis and a mobile telephone.

There was no one to rescue passengers from robbers, Sharif grumbled.About a week ago, police detained two armed thieves who had snatched 200,000 afghanis and five mobile phones from passengers in Baghlan province.

Deputy Governor Gul Mohammad Baidar said he did not know why passengerstravelled at night. The transport companies in Kabul were not controlled by provincial authorities, he explained.

“We have also pressed the companies to transport passengers in daytime, but they don’t care. We have sent several letters on the issue to the Ministry of Transport, but the problem is yet to be resolved,” he concluded.