President Ashraf Ghani visited the war-weary city of Ghazni in the southwest of Kabul one week after the Taliban attacked the provincial capital and infiltrated into its key regions.
The president held talks with senior security officials and governor of Ghazni who was reportedly out of the country when the city came under attack last Friday.
The Afghan president ordered a ‘proper investigation’ into the ‘Ghazni plot’ when he addressed a gathering of locals in the city on Friday afternoon.
“The depth of plot (of attack on) Ghazni will be investigated comprehensively by the National Directorate of Security,” Ghani said as quoted in a statement by Presidential Palace. He said the weaknesses from a security point of view will be disclosed.
In his visit to Ghazni, Ghani was accompanied by senior security officials including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and Deputy Interior Minister for Security Gen. Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi.
Ghani was criticized by a Ghazni resident at the gathering where he delivered speech. The resident asked Ghani to probe the incident in which 16 civilians were killed in airstrikes conducted by Afghan forces in Khoshal Mina area on Tuesday evening.
Ghani said in response that he has directed an investigation into the incident.
The Associated Press said in a report published on Friday that two rockets hit inside the city as President Ghani held a meeting with elders at a nearby mosque. A third rocket landed in a nearby river, witnesses said as quoted by the Associated Press.
No one was hurt in the rocket attacks, the report says.
Ghani directed security officials to reconstruct Ghazni police headquarters and establish more security check points in the city to ensurethe safety of the residents.
At the meeting, the Gen. Yaftali said the ‘Nejat Operation’ is ongoing successfully and that the situation in the city has turned to normal.
Security belts have been established in different parts of the city, Yaftali said.
President Ghani’s visit to Ghazni takes place as clashes between government forces and Taliban are still ongoing in some parts of the province, according to local officials.
Ghazni Police Chief Farid Ahmad Mashal said Taliban attacked Qarabagh district in the province on Thursday night and that clashes are still ongoing.
Sources said the situation in Andar district in Ghazni is also concerning in terms of security.
Ghazni’s private sector sustained an estimated $50 million in losses during the four-day siege of Ghazni over the weekend, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said this week following a preliminary investigation.
Their probe found that markets have burned down, along with some buildings and shops as well as all the goods inside.
One analyst said the city was a small trading hub which has been reduced to a heap of rubble.
The president during his visit to Ghazni pledged $20 million for “immediate reconstruction of government buildings”.
“Twenty million dollars will be allocated immediately for reconstruction of government buildings and other parts of Ghazni City,” Ghani said in an address to the residents and officials.
He directed ministries of Public Health, Energy and Water and Communication and Information Technology to accelerate work on water, health, electricity and telecom projects in the city.
According to Rahimullah Kalimzai, governor of Ghazni, water supply system, electricity and telecom services have been activated in the city, but he said more work is needed to be done to bring the services back to normal.