This year’s fighting season has seen a sharp spike in insurgent activity on a number of fronts – especially that of armed conflicts in the once secure northern areas of Afghanistan. Currently three provinces are experiencing fierce fighting between Afghan special forces and the Taliban. These are Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar.
Earlier this week Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), addressed the UN Security Council on the Afghan situation and said that foreign fighters from Afghanistan’s northern neighbors and elsewhere presented a particular challenge.
Baghlan’s Burka district governor Abdul Jabar Islami on Thursday warned that the Taliban has managed to seize control of at least half the districts in the province. He called on government to send in extra troops to eliminate the insurgents.
According to Islami, the Taliban has been collecting Zakat (almsgiving) from district residents by force. They have no choice but to pay on time. He says this income goes towards supporting the Taliban’s war.
Local farmers state that the Taliban impose a 10 percent Zakat on them. For every 700kg of wheat harvested they have to hand over 70kg of their produce, they say.
According to local residents anyone who doesn’t abide by the Taliban’s orders are made to stand trial by the insurgent group.
Meanwhile, Islami painted a bleak picture in terms of current security force numbers and said there were simply not enough troops to take back control of the Taliban-held districts.
He said reinforcement troops need to be sent in and a large-scale operation conducted in order to claim control.
Officials say that the Taliban controls almost a hundred villages in the Barka and Baghlan-e-Markazi districts and some villages in Pole-Khomri center of the province.
Mohammad Omar Khwaja Ghar district governor of Takhar province, which borders Tajikistan, also painted a bleak picture of his district on Thursday.
He said that about 50 special forces soldiers have been deployed to the border area with Dasht-e-Arche district, which borders Kunduz province, and are awaiting orders to launch an operation to re-take control of the district.
Last week, at least five people, including the Ashkamish district governor Hamidullah Haqyar, were killed in a roadside mine blast. The Taliban claimed responsibility for this attack.
Kunduz province has also come under fierce attack recently and security forces are also expected to launch a large-scale counter-insurgency operation soon, said officials.
They say troops will move on Dasht-e-Arche district which fell into the hands of the Taliban on Monday.
In addition, the Chahar Dara bazaar district is also still the scene of heavy fighting between Afghan troops and Taliban insurgents, say local officials.
Chahar Dara district governor Zalmai Farooqi confirmed the ongoing clashes and said that security forces only have control of Chahar Dara’s district bazaar and that the remaining areas of the district are under Taliban control.
Security forces launched a counter-offensive to re-take the Chahar Dara district late Monday night after it had fallen early Saturday.
The Taliban militants had captured the district just days before. Security officials said Wednesday they were driven out of the district and close to 100 of them were killed. However, conflicting reports have since emerged that the district is not yet totally re-taken by the special forces.