Illegal Armed Groups Destabilizing Ghor
 
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Local officials of Ghor province on Monday said that around thousands of armed individuals belonging to a variety of Illegal Armed Groups (IAGs) are destabilizing the province and receiving support from some officials in Kabul. 

According to the local Ghor officials, 8000 men belonging to 130 IAGs are extorting money from residents and causing broader security threats through smuggling and bandit activities. Sayed Anwar Rahmati, Provincial Governor, claimed that a number of National Assembly members and Cabinet members support the illegal groups, making it difficult for the local government to reign them in.

Ghor is a remote province in central Afghanistan, where the central government has not been able to put a check on the free movement of these heavily armed groups of outlaws. The Disarmament of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) project, launched in 2005, has not been fully implemented in the province. 

"These groups are extorting money from people. The groups are involved in drug smuggling and robbery, and are supported by some members of the cabinet and National Assembly," Mr. Rahmati told TOLOnews.

Security research organisations carried out a study in Ghor cited by the local officials.  and found that the province is chalk-filled with IAGs. Below are the numbers of armed groups that are reportedly present in various districts of the province:

1. Chaghcharan City:

27 illegal armed groups consisting of 1,200 members equipped with 853 lightweight and 56 heavy arms.

2. Lal Wa Sarjangal District:

10 illegal armed groups consisting of 155 members equipped with 148 light and 7 heavy weapons.

3. Dawlat Yar District:

15 illegal armed groups consisting of 267 members equipped with 253 light and 14 heavy weapons.

4. Charsadda District:

14 illegal armed groups consisting of 2344 armed members equipped with 2320 light and 24 heavy weapons.

5. Dolina District:

9 illegal armed groups consisting of 342 armed members equipped with 314 light and 28 heavy weapons.

6. Shahrak District:

10 illegal armed groups consisting of 252 armed members equipped with 225 light and 27 heavy weapons.

7. Pasaband District:

20 illegal armed groups consisting of 332 armed members equipped with 313 light and 19 heavy weapons.

8. Teyora District:

19 illegal armed groups consisting of 2850 armed members equipped with 2805 light and 45 heavy weapons.

9. Saghar District:

9 illegal armed groups consisting of 176 armed members equipped with 166 light and 10 heavy weapons.

According to the report, the groups possess 5399 light and 230 heavy weapons in total. The security officials of Ghor province said that the IAGs are supported by some political parties, including Hezb-e-Islami, Watan Political party, Jamyat-e-Islami and Junbish-e-Islami. Dilawar Shah Dilawar, Ghor Police Chief, said that majority of the outlaw bands answer to high ranking government officials.

"Our brothers within the government control several illegal armed groups in the region. I request them to stop supporting them for better security in the region," said Mr. Dilawar.

Meanwhile, a number of Ghor Provincial Council members and civil society activists claimed that the groups have formed their own governments and punished several residents in their "kangaroo courts."

"The armed groups have their own government. They have their own attorney general, courts, ministers, etc. They extort money from people in the name of charity," said Hassan Hakimi, a civil society activist in Ghor.

The members further added that many Ghor residents have already abandoned their homes due to growing instability. The residents warned that if the government does not take immediate steps, all residents would be forced to leave the province.

Additionally, the members of the Provincial Council warned the government saying that if it does not disarm the IAGs, conducting legitimate elections next year in the province would be next to impossible.

Foreign forces are due to leave Afghanistan next year and so far the government has failed to find a durable solution to the problem of IAGs, which are common throughout the country. 

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