Taliban insurgents have seized the strategic town of Janikhail in Paktia province from the Afghan government, a number of civil society activists in Paktia said Friday.
Activists in the militancy-riddled district have said that the government did nothing for the district over the past fifteen years and did not even build a district chief’s headquarters – an issue activists believe emboldened the Taliban to make their advance on the area.
Amid speculations over the lack of government presence in Janikhail, Afghan government sources have promised to launch a broad-based investigation into the fall of the district to militants.
The activists have said that similar issues exist in other districts in the province including Zurmat, Laja Manga, Ahmad Khail, Showak, Garda Seri, Wazai Zadran and Mirzaka and that there are no district buildings in the mentioned districts.
The activists blasted government over what they called negligence to retake the district from the Taliban.
“Weakness in the local governance has led to the fall of the district despite the fact we raised our concerns constantly to every side,” said Shaista Jan Hadi, civil society activist in Paktia.
“People appealed several times to government to send more troops to their area to save the district from collapse, but no one heard their voice,” said Azad Mir, a resident of Janikhail district.
In the wake of public outrage over the fall of the district to the Taliban, Janikhail district chief has also said that the local government did not bother to tackle threats against the town in order to foil attempts for control of the town by the militants.
“You must ask the police chief about the fall of Janikhail, from governor and others to find out why attention was not paid to Janikhail,” said Abdul Rahman Zurmati, Janikhail district chief.
In reference to outrage over the fall of the town to the Taliban, the provincial authorizes have said that they have launched an investigation into the fall of the district to the Taliban.
“Investigations have started, all those found guilty of committing negligence during duty will be referred to the legal and judicial institutions,” said Naqib Atal, spokesman for Paktia’s governor.
The Taliban insurgents started to blockade the town a month ago with the Afghan security forces hitting the militants from the air on multiple fronts. However it fell to the Taliban early last week.
Security officials have said they will continue their military campaign against the Taliban in Janikhail.