While honoring policemen killed in clashes with the Taliban in Jalrez district of Maidan Wardak province in recent weeks, a number of national unity government leaders voiced strong criticism against security officials for failing to provide adequate support for the local forces.
Over 20 local policemen were killed in the Jalrez clash. The ceremony on Saturday saw 12 of their bodies moved into Kabul to honor their sacrifice and receive a formal funeral.
Mohammad Muhaqiq, the Second Deputy of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah, spoke at the ceremony and said the ministries of defense and interior should be forced to explain for their negligence in dealing with the Jalrez clashes.
“Both the Taliban and the residents witnessed the incident; the public protection forces waited for their deaths for 20 hours,” Muhaqiq said on Saturday. “When I asked them why you don’t go further, they replied that the area was full of mines. But, when the check posts were retaken, a tank went to the end of the area and no one was killed by mines.”
Meanwhile, Sarwar Danish, the Second Vice President of President Ashraf Ghani, echoed Muhaqiq’s sentiment, saying that those who have remained reluctant regarding the Jalrez battle should be exposed.
Former Vice President Karim Khalili also blamed the large amount of casualties on mismanagement by security officials. “Most of the casualties are because of inattention and irresponsible attempts by the relevant organizations and lack of coordination among security agencies,” he said. “This is not acceptable to us.”
Chief Executive Abdullah has told TOLOnews that Riza, one of the local policemen who was killed in Jalrez, and who is a relative, was in contact with him in the last moments of his life. Riza allegedly asked Abdullah repeatedly to deliver his pleas for backup to top security officials in order to save lives.
“He told me repeatedly to call the leaders to support them, and we called several officials, but they did not pay attention, despite that there was an army and public protection force base near them,” Abdullah said.
Local accounts of the Jalrez battle have substantiated the claims made by leaders at the ceremony on Saturday. Azizullah, a resident of Maidan Wardak who lost his brother in the battle, says the fighting raged on for 72 hours, and only ended once the police officers ran out of ammunition. “The Taliban, after killing my brother, tied his body behind a vehicle and pulled him on rocks and dust,” Azizullah told TOLOnews.
It is said that one of the fallen officers is from the Chindawol area of Kabul, while the others are all from Bamyan province.