Hundreds of people take arms against Afghan Taliban

Kabul, Nov 15 (IANS) Hundreds of Afghan people have taken up arms against Taliban in the northern Jowzjan province after the fundamentalist rebel group intensified its armed activities in the neighbouring Saripul and Faryab provinces.

“Several hundred people gathered in Faizabad district of Jowzjan province this afternoon and vowed to support government forces in the war against Taliban rebels,” Xinhua news agency quoted a pro-government armed man as saying.

He said the people have bought arms and ammunition with their own money to fight Taliban insurgents, and “the remedy to eliminate Taliban rebels is mobilising people against the hardliner group and backing government forces”.

Taliban militants fighting the government to regain power, according to locals, have killed innocent civilians, destroyed schools and ruined health clinics.

“We have been fed up with the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islam and their despotic policies,” another pro-government armed commander, Sahib Khan, told Xinhua.

He warned the armed insurgents to either lay down arms or face dire consequences of the people’s wrath.

Taliban militants in their recent onslaught have captured some villages in parts of Faizabad and Ghormach district and have set ablaze several houses, according to locals.

Even scores of women have taken up arms in parts of Jowzjan province to fight the Taliban over the past couple of months.

The armed rebel group in its latest offensive against government interests launched coordinated attacks in the southern part of Jowzjan’s neighbouring Saripul province early Tuesday, triggering fighting.

“Taliban militants launched coordinated attacks on the southern part of Saripul provincial capital, the Saripul city early this morning but fled after suffering casualties. They left behind nine dead bodies, including of two key commanders, Gul Hamid and Mabariz,” an official said.

Fifteen more militants have been injured and sporadic fighting between security forces and Taliban fighters is going on in some villages on the outskirt of the provincial capital the Saripul city, 360 km north of Kabul, the official added.

He also confirmed that six security personnel have been killed or injured in the fighting.

Taliban militants, who are active in parts of Saripul province, have not commented.

Meanwhile, observers believe that the Taliban militants would intensify activities to gain more ground and consolidate their grip ahead of snowfall in the mountainous country.