Thousands flee due to Taliban surge in northern Afghanistan

Camp Istiqlal, Afghanistan (AP) — Sakina, 11, 11 and perhaps 12, walked with her family for 10 days after the Taliban occupied a village in northern Afghanistan and burned down a local school.

They are currently one of about 50 families living in a temporary camp on rocky lands on the edge of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. They roast in a plastic tent under the scorching heat of 44 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) at noon. There are no trees, and the only bathroom throughout the camp is a tattered tent stretched over a stinking hole.

Thousands of families, such as Sakina, live under the control of armed groups as the Taliban raid north of Afghanistan, a traditional base for US alliance warlords and dominated by ethnic minorities in the country. I’m afraid to run away from home.

In the last 15 days, Taliban advances have driven more than 5,600 families out of their homes, most of them in the northern part of the country, according to the government’s refugees and the Ministry of Repatriation.

Camp Istiqlal said that each family, all from the Hazara ethnic minorities, used tedious tactics to conquer towns and villages by Taliban commanders. Past.

Sakina said her parents had packed up their luggage and fled the village of Abdulgan in Balf at midnight, but not before the invading Taliban set fire to the school. Sakakina said she didn’t understand why the school was burnt.

At Camp Istiqlal, there are no lights. You may also hear noise in total darkness at night. “Maybe it’s the Taliban, and they’re here. I’m scared,” said the girl, hoping to become an engineer someday.

When the Taliban arrived, Yakubu Maladi fled his village in Sanshanda, not far from Abdulgan. He said they tried to intimidate the villagers to stay. Maradi’s brother and some of his family were arrested and “held hostage to prevent them from leaving,” he said.

“Maybe he’ll be released today, but he can’t leave,” Maladi said from inside his little sultry plastic tent, with the mattress folded in one corner and thrown onto a tanned mud floor. It was.

A cruel hot breeze barking when self-proclaimed camp leader Mohammad Rahimi, who also fled Abdulgan, recalled how an under-equipped militia in the Zari area tried to defend against the larger Taliban troops. Attacked the tent. Rahimi nominated a few militia fighters he said he died to protect their area.

In the areas they control, the Taliban impose their own fees and taxes. Truck driver Ashor Ali told The Associated Press that he would pay the Taliban a toll of 12,000 afghani ($ 147) each time he brought coal from the neighboring Taliban-controlled area of ​​Samangan to Mazar-i-Sharif. That’s more than half of what he makes with each haul.

The Taliban are attending international conferences and have sent a former minister on a mission from Qatar to Afghanistan to ensure that they are not afraid of Afghans, especially the minority. The group still supports Islamic rule, but states that its methods and beliefs are not very strict.

But if it’s the gentler face they’re trying to portray, the fleeing residents say that many Taliban commanders on the scene haven’t received or heard the message.

The February 2020 agreement signed by the Taliban with the United States reportedly prevented armed groups from occupying the state capital. However, two are besieged, Kandahar in the south and Bagis in the north. A rocket defense system was installed in the capital of Kabul, where many fear the final Taliban attack, the Interior Ministry said over the weekend. The statement did not provide details about its origin or cost.

The United States, Russia, China, and even Pakistan, a neighboring country of Afghanistan, headquartered by the Taliban leadership, warned against attempting a military victory over the Taliban, warning that they would become an international Paria. Taliban leaders vowed that they were proud of their interests at recent meetings in Iran and Russia, but not.

The Taliban have accused the Afghan government of failing to rush to initiate deadlocked negotiations that would raise the debate to include leaders on both sides of the conflict.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban political spokesman and member of the negotiating team, told AP on three different occasions that his side was waiting for a high-level delegation from Kabul to meet in Doha. .. He said they never came.

Kabul’s delegation should include former President Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the National Reconciliation Council, and senior military commanders such as Atta Muhammad Nur, one of the most powerful northern commanders. It was.

Afghan officials familiar with the planned meeting confirmed their intention to travel and participate in Doha, but said President Ashraf Ghani was reluctant and often hindered his efforts. They discussed negotiations with reporters on condition of anonymity.

Last week, President Joe Biden urged Afghan leaders to find unity, saying it was up to Afghanistan to end the decades of war. Washington is nearing the end of the “eternal war” with 90% of the final withdrawals of the United States and NATO completed and its commander-in-chief, General Scott Miller, abandoning command.

Maladi, who was denied permission to leave the brothers, said he did not trust the Taliban’s promise.

Many are still plagued by memories of the Tit-for-Tat massacre that characterized Taliban rule in areas dominated by Afghan minorities in the late 1990s.

Mazar-i-Sharif was a terrifying bloodletting scene. In 1997, Uzbek and Hazaras fighters killed about 2,000 Pashtun Taliban captured in the city after a ceasefire agreement was signed. In some cases, they plunged prisoners into holes in the northern plains of the city, throwing grenades and spraying automatic weapons. The following year, the Taliban struck Mazar-i-Sharif, killing thousands of Hazara and fleeing tens of thousands to Kabul.

Istiqlal’s life in the camp is cruel. There is little water to wash, and most meals are bread and tea brought to the camp by leader Rahimi. Fatima, who hugged her sick two-month-old daughter Cobra, said she hadn’t had enough food and drink since she arrived about a week ago and couldn’t produce enough milk to feed her baby. Another mother showed blisters covering her two-year-old son Mohammad Navi’s arms and legs. In the darkness of the night, he hit the burned water. They said the doctor had no money.

Residents of the camp say no one has come to help them.

At the edge of the camp, Habibra Amanula shouted. His 7-year-old daughter was hiding behind his arm. “She asks me for something to eat. What can I say to her? Nothing.”


Associated Press writer Tameem Akhgar contributed to this report.

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