Acting Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor on Monday warned Taliban that he will change Balkh into their grave if they refuse to lay down arms and quit insurgency.
Noor, who is leading a clearance operation called Nawid 3 in Kushinda district in the province, said the militants have suffered heavy losses in the operation as nearly 40 of them have been killed so far.
He also said that several villages were cleared of Taliban in the operation and that heavy and light weapons were recovered by security forces.
“I want to tell Afghanistan’s enemies, the Taliban and their leaders that they must leave war and join the peace process and they must not come to Balkh with a goal of war. We are not those who make orders from behind their desks,” Noor told TOLOnews from the battlefield.
He added that more than 20 militants were arrested along with their weapons in the operation.
Meanwhile, the arrested fighters said they were deceived by the Taliban’s propaganda and that they came to the district from Sar-e-Pul, Samangan and Balkh provinces.
“I was deceived from a lack of information and education. We joined the Taliban with the mindset that we are mujahideen now. It was our worst fate that we joined the militants and now we have been arrested,” said Khair Mohammad, one prisoner.
Another prisoner, Mohibullah, said: “It is one month since I joined the Taliban, by propaganda from Mullah Ghufran, who is a member of Mullah Bari’s group.”
According to local security officials, at least 10 security force members were killed and 10 others wounded in the operation, where they cleared 10 areas of Taliban.
A number of residents in Kushinda district meanwhile welcomed the military operation by the security forces and said there were no civilian casualties.
“We are happy. The poor people here are now free. They will get back to their daily activities,” said Sher Mohamamd, a resident of the area.
Noor said he will never let insurgents infiltrate Balkh and that he is committed to ensuring security in his province.