Thousands of Afghan families are fighting in the former Taliban stronghold


People walk to the border crossing point in the Pakistani border town of Chaman on July 17, 2021. – AFP

KANDAHAR: More than 22,000 Afghan families have fled their homes to escape fighting in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, officials said Sunday, arresting four suspected insurgents in a rocket attack in Kabul this week. did it.

Violence has escalated in several provinces, including Kandahar, since early May, when insurgents launched a major operation just days after the last day of the US-led withdrawal of foreign troops began.

In a deadly Taliban attack, insurgents have besieged several districts, border crossings and several provincial capitals.

“Fighting in Kandahar has displaced 22,000 families in the past month,” Dost Mohammad Daryab, head of the provincial refugee department, told AFP.

“They have all moved from the volatile districts of the city to safer areas.”

Fighting continued on the outskirts of Kandahar City on Sunday.

“The negligence of some security forces, especially the police, has paved the way for the Taliban,” Lali Dastagiri, deputy governor of Kandahar province, told AFP.

“We are now trying to organize our security forces.”

Local authorities set up four camps for the displaced, estimated at about 154,000.

Hafiz Mohammad Akbar, a Kandahar resident, said his house was captured by the Taliban after he fled.

“They forced us to leave. I now live with my 20-member family in a compound that has no toilets,” Akbar said.

Fears of escalating fighting

Residents feared fighting could escalate in the coming days.

“If they really want to fight family, they should go and fight in the desert, not destroy the city.”

“Even if they win, they can’t rule a city of the past.”

Kandahar, with a population of 650,000, is the second largest city in Afghanistan after Kabul.

The southern province was the center of Taliban rule when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Since stepping down in a US-led invasion in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban have led a deadly insurgency that continues to this day.

Their latest operations in early May have taken control of the group in about half of the country’s 400 districts.

Earlier this week, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Mele, said the Taliban appeared to have “strategic momentum” on the battlefield.

But Human Rights Watch says it has received reports that the Taliban have inflicted atrocities on civilians in the area, including the town of Spin Boldak, near the border with Pakistan, earlier this month. What was

Patricia Grossman, associate director at HRW, said in a statement: “Taliban leaders have denied responsibility for any abuses, but deportations, arbitrary detentions and Growing evidence of casualties is raising fears in the population. “

Authorities, meanwhile, announced that they had arrested four people they said belonged to the Taliban, and accused them of launching a rocket attack on Kabul this week.

“A Taliban commander, Momin, along with three others have been arrested. They all belong to the Taliban group,” ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanakzai told reporters in a video message.

On Tuesday, President Ashraf Ghani and his top officials approached the palace with at least three rockets while offering outdoor prayers at the start of the Eid-ul-Adha Muslim holiday.

However, the attacker claimed responsibility.

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