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‘Ghazni conflict rages amid disregard for civilian lives’

‘Ghazni conflict rages amid disregard for civilian lives’

Oct 10, 2017 - 00:01

GHAZNI CIYT (Pajhwok): A number of residents say the conflict in southern Ghazni province has recently intensified, with the warring sides disregarding civilian lives.

They say both Taliban militants and government forces target civilian homes during clashes between them.

Mohammad Anwar, a resident of Gawmishak area of Qarabagh district, told Pajhwok Afghan News that a few days back, Taliban militants gathered in their village to plan an attack on Afghan forces.

“But before they could launch their attack, the Afghan forces targeted the militants and there was a bad situation in the village. Two civilians were also injured and a mosque destroyed,” he said.

Rahmatullah, a resident of Balai village of Deh Yak district, said three civilians of their village were killed when helicopters dropped bombs over them. The helicopters came after a meeting of the Taliban ended in the area, he said.

“The government later announced that a Taliban commander was killed in the airstrike, but in fact those killed were civilians,” he said.

Local residents urged both the warring sides to take care of civilians during the conflict.

A number of other residents of Ghazni complained about what they called bad behavior of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces.

Saeedullah, a resident of Giro district, said ALP forces had harassed people in many areas after clashes with insurgents.

“After the clashes end, ALP forces come to the area and torture people over accusation of links with Taliban, they do so to extract something from locals,” he said.

“People stay at homes for at least two days after a clash due to such behavior of the local police,” he added.

Provincial police spokesman, Fahim Amarkhel, said the Afghan forces had always protected civilians during clashes.

 “But the Taliban use civilian houses as their bastions, they fire at Afghan forces from civilian homes and Afghan forces retaliate in defense,” he said.

A spokesman for the 203rd Thunder Military Corps, Mohammad Hanif Rezayee, was of the same view.

“Our operations are advancing with care in order to avoid civilian losses, but Taliban are unprofessional and they use heavy weapons which cause casualties to local people,” he said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said their fighters also tried to avoid civilian casualties during fights. “We never fire on security forces from civilian homes,” he said.

He said more than half of Taliban attacks were carried out on roads and through ambushes that caused no casualties to civilians.

Residents of other provinces have similar complaints and they regularly urge all sides to be careful about civilian lives.