PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok): Public representatives and residents of northern Baghlan province complainthe security situation on the highway between Pul-i-Khumri and Mazar-i-Sharif has sharply deteriorated.
Asking the government to ensure people’s protection, they say a number of civilians and Afghan forces had been killed in clashes and attacks on the busy highway in the past two weeks.
A week ago, the Taliban blocked the highway in Bagh-i-Shamal area and attacked a former commander of the Junbish-i-Islami Afghanistan party.
One of his bodyguards was killed while the commander was wounded along with two bodyguards in the assault.Two workers of the Halo Trust -- a demining organisation -- were also killed in the attack.
Five policemen, a traffic police officer and a civilian were among those killed during recent attacks on the highway.Residents accused security organs of negligence in securing the road.
Mohammad Nasim, an inhabitant of Pul-i-Khumri city, has stopped bringing food items from Mazar-i-Sharif. The highwaysecurity has worsened in the past two weeks.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News no one could travel safely the highway after 4pm. Taliban stop vehicles, searchpassengers and capture those with links to the government, he alleges.
The situation has left a negative impact on business affairs, Nasim claims. “Last week, the rebels disembarked me from my car and asked me to sit under a tree for half an hour.”
Driver Mohammad Gulab says: “I have been plying this highwaydriving for the past five years, but people are now evincing a very little interest in travelling to Mazar-i-Sharif.”
Generally speaking, passengers avoid travelling the highway after 4.pm due to insecurity. A man was recently taken from the road to a Taliban centre in the Joy Naw area of Dand-i-Ghori district.
He was interrogated by the Taliban commission for quite a while before being allowed to resume the journey to his destination, reveals Mohammad Hassan.
The militants apparently mistook him for an Afghan National Army soldier on his way from Gharo Shakh Cheshma-i-Sher village to Pul-i-Khumri.
But some tribal elders from the arealater told the Taliban that the captive was a construction company worker.Subsequently, the fighters released him.
Dand-i-Ghor has lately emerged as a safe haven for militants and a serious threat to Ghor security, provincial councilmember Shams-ul-Haq Barakzai says.
“Taliban have spread to Dand-i-Shahabuddin and most of the time disrupt highway security from there,” he explains. The Burka district chief was killed by Taliban in the same location.
Abdul Jabbar Islami, the district’s administrative head, came under attack while travelling from Baghlan-i-Markazi district to Pul-i-Khumri on Dec. 12.
Although there are police checkpoints along the highway, Taliban attack vehicles at night and flee before the security personnel reach the scene, according to the the deputy police chief, Col. Abdul Rashid Bashir.