Residents of Khak-e-Jabar district in Kabul province said on Sunday that Taliban members have occupied dozens of villages in the district following government’s unilateral ceasefire that was announced early in June.
The residents said when government announced the ceasefire the Taliban members arrived in the district, but when the ceasefire ended, they did not leave the area.
Residents and local officials said following the ceasefire the Taliban positioned themselves in the mountains in the district and now they are active in about 40 villages in the district.
“In every village around 30 to 40 or 50 Taliban come and force people to give them bread and water,” Rohullah, a resident of the district said.
Residents said the Taliban members also threaten government employees and tell them to either leave their jobs or their homes.
“Government staff members are facing problems, because Taliban tell them to leave the area,” Abdullah, a resident of the district said.
“They tell people to tell their sons and brothers to leave security forces and government departments. Otherwise, they should leave the area,” Mohammad Yunus, another resident said.
Residents and local officials have raised concerns over the Taliban’s presence and activities and said if government does not take serious action in getting rid of the Taliban, Khak-e-Jabar district may collapse to the group.
According to local officials, Taliban are very active in most villages in the district and at night they travel around the district on motorcycles and horses. Local officials said security forces fought the Taliban for two hours at Chakari village in the district on Sunday.
Khak-e-Jabar is about 40 km from Kabul city.
“If a major plan is not taken (for pushing back the Taliban), it is possible that Taliban’s physical presence will increase in the area,” Mohammad Idres Yadgari, police chief of the district said.
The residents also said Taliban shut down telecom services in the district from 6pm to 6am in the morning and during this time they travel around the area.
“For the last week mobile phones do not work at night,” Gul Dast, a resident of the district said.
Khak-e-Jabar district has around 50 villages and only a few are located near the police headquarters and district buildings, which are free of Taliban.
Taliban however has rejected the claims about pressurizing people in Khak-e-Jabar district.
Afghan government early in June announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban that started from 27th of Ramadan until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr.
“With the ceasefire announcement, we epitomize the strength of the Afghan government and the will of the people for a peaceful resolution to the Afghan conflict,” Ghani said in a video message on the Presidential Palace’s Facebook page at the time.
“This ceasefire is an opportunity for the Taliban to realize that their violent campaign is not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause," Ghani said.
Following government ceasefire, Taliban also announced a three-days ceasefire during the Eid days.
Government then extended the ceasefire for another 10 days, but Taliban did not.