War & Peace

Taleban Attacks on Khas Uruzgan, Jaghori and Malestan (I): A new and violent push into Hazara areas


Members of an internally displaced Afghan family sit on a truck as they flee from Jaghori district to escape ongoing battles between Taliban and Afghan security forces, in Ghazni on November 15, 2018. (Photo by ZAKERIA HASHIMI / AFP)

Members of a family sit on a truck as they flee from Jaghori district to escape ongoing battles between Taleban and Afghan security forces, in Ghazni on 15 November 2018. (Photo by Zakeria Hashimi/AFP)

In late October 2018, the Taleban pushed deeper into Hazara areas than they had ever done before. They first pursued Hakim Shujai, a notorious former Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander, into Malestan, then launched an assault on the district of Jaghori and thereafter attacked Malestan’s district centre, almost resulting in its collapse. The attacks were unprecedented in their reach and scope and led to massive displacement of local people. In this series of two dispatches, AAN’s Ali Yawar Adili and Martine van Bijlert (with input from Thomas Ruttig, Fazal Muzhari and Ehsan Qaane), first, look into the details of the attacks and, second, provide in-depth background and an analysis of the attacks.

The Taleban attacks on Hazara areas in districts in Uruzgan and Ghazni provinces were unprecedented – at least in recent times – in terms of the number of incursions, the number of casualties and the level of coordination (three areas at more or less the same time). The initial attack on the largely self-governing Hazara enclave in the northeast of Khas Uruzgan was in response to Shujai’s visit – and possibly his behaviour towards Pashtuns while he was there. At the same time, it came in the context of increased pressure by the Taleban on the Hazara population in areas they had so far largely left alone. Coming at a time when the government and the Taleban are talking about a possible peace process, the Taleban suddenly seemed keen to show their reach and to increase their local revenue streams. The attacks appeared to fly in the face of local agreements between Hazara populations and the Taleban to largely leave each other alone. The level of violence and the slowness of the government to respond have, moreover, fed into fears of ethnic targeting by the Taleban and ethnic bias from the government. In this first dispatch in a series of two, AAN provides a detailed account of the attacks.

The attack in Khas Uruzgan and incursions into Malestan

The attack on Khas Uruzgan started on 27 October 2018. On that day, by all accounts, Hakim Shujai, a notorious former Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander, arrived in the Kondolan area in the northeast of Khas Uruzgan in a convoy of several cars (Shujai is from Malestan, but headed the ALP forces in Khas Uruzgan until he was forced to resign). After refuelling his vehicles and moving around in Kondolan bazaar for a while, he went to an area called Dakhni in the centre of the area where he decided to spend the night. The Taleban, alerted to his presence, approached Dakhni around 7:30 pm and started shooting to find out whether he was really there. When they drew return fire, they attacked.

Shujai was injured in the attack, but managed to escape with his remaining men to Hamza, a hamlet at the edge of Kondolan. From there, he continued to Ochi (also known as Gerdai Chaman), which is in the Shirdagh area of Malestan district in Ghazni, just across the border. The Taleban pursued him into Shirdagh where they engaged in fighting over the days that followed. Taleban reinforcements arrived, first from other areas in Khas Uruzgan, later also from Ajiristan district in Ghazni, according to local sources. They were stationed in houses and mosques in the Hazara areas of Kondolan, Husseini, Haji Muhammad and Gandab – the northeastern corner of the district where the Hazara population had so far largely managed to keep their independence from the Taleban. In the days that followed, several civilians were violently killed, leading ever more families to flee the area out of fear of violence. (1)

On 28 October 2018, the Taleban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that “the brutal commander Shujai had resorted to an aggressive attack for the purpose of looting in the Kondolan and Jaga Righ areas of Khas Uruzgan and had faced tough resistance.” The Taleban’s report claimed that eight of Shujai’s forces had been killed and injured and six more, including “a policewoman,” had been captured. (Local sources told AAN the woman was not a policewoman and had been captured because she had picked up a weapon to fight off the Taleban, being the only person in the house; the sources also said the Taleban later released the prisoners). According to sources AAN spoke to, the Taleban killed 11 people in the attack, including two of Shujai’s deputies, Fakuri and Khan Ali Ghulami (known as Shujai’s ‘minister of war’).

On 1 November 2018, President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree in response to the public outcry over the attack – although the wording of the text only made matters worse. The decree tasked a 12-member delegation “to investigate and resolve the recent conflict among the ethnicities of Uruzgan province.” (3) The fact that the president had referred to the violence as ‘ethnic conflict,’ was met with sharp criticism by many Hazaras who argued that this was clearly a matter of the Taleban attacking a pro-government area and it was the government’s responsibility not just to investigate, but to act. For instance, the head of private Ibn-e Sina University, Muhammad Amin Ahmadi, wrote on 4 November (under the title “A government that establishes peace between the Taleban and the local population):

[It is such a] confused government whose ethnocentrism has rendered it unable to understand even the simplest issues. According to a report by [Kabul daily] Etilaat Roz, the president has appointed a delegation to find the root of the Taleban’s conflict with the local people in Uruzgan, as if the conflict is an ethnic-based one, or between the Taleban and a local commander. … The government should answer this simple question: does it agree with the Taleban’s advance into its sovereign territory? Does it want the people to surrender to the Taleban? Is it not concerned about the weakening of the government and the fall of the system?

The president’s own vice-president and chief executive also weighed in. Vice-President Sarwar Danesh said in a speech on 1 November 2018, “These people were under government rule and are supporters of the system and, for that very reason, have come under the Taleban’s brutal attack.” He criticised his own government saying, “for whatever reason, no practical action has been taken by the local administration or our security institutions in [Kabul] to defend the people.” Danesh also called on the local population “not to surrender … and to defend their dignity and freedom manly.” A few days later, on 5 November, Chief Executive Abdullah told the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers that he had met with representatives from the (Hazara) central region who complained that the issue was presented as an “ethnic fight.” He admitted that the delay in the government’s response had led to civilian casualties and displacement of the people.

Former Daikundi governor Qurban Ali Uruzgani told AAN that he had met Vice-President Danesh, along with a number of other Hazara representatives, to discuss the decree’s three main problems: (a) it called the conflict “ethnic”, (b) the delegation included only two Hazaras and (c) the decree had tasked the governor’s office in Uruzgan – that is, the officials who had initially reported the conflict to the president as an ethnic one – with facilitating the delegation’s stay. Uruzgani said that it was as a result of these efforts that the decree was amended. (4)

On 5 November, Ghazni provincial council member Muhammad Naim Tawhidi, who according to media reports had been at the scene of the clashes, was quoted as saying that the Taleban’s so-called commando-type ‘red units’ had attacked the police forces in Shirdagh, Malestan, during the night of 4 November. (Read AAN’s previous reporting on the shift in Taleban strategy from a ‘front system’ to a ‘red unit’, also known as the Taleban’s ‘special sniper group’ system here). Tawhidi said that 13 policemen had been killed in the clashes and the security forces had withdrawn towards Meradina, Malestan’s district centre. Pajhwok quoted Malestan district governor Zamen Ali Hedayat, who added that scores of civilians had also been killed. (The possible presence of the Taleban’s red units was also mentioned by other local sources and repeated by Deputy Chief Executive Muhammad Mohaqeq here).

Provincial council member Tawhidi complained that more than 30 army soldiers had arrived in Malestan centre a few days earlier, but they had not yet been allowed to carry out operations.

Several sources told AAN that following the Taleban’s assault on Shirdagh, local people struck a deal with the Taleban and gave up the fight. Khaleq Ibrahimi, who had travelled to Malestan along with two other journalists to investigate the Taleban attacks, in a conversation with AAN, quoted a resident of Shirdagh saying that it had not been “a peace deal, but rather it allowed us to lengthen our survival (“dam-e khod ra daraz kunim)” and that it had come at the cost of schools and paying ushr (an obligatory charge on agricultural produce). (AAN’s conversations with different sources show that the fighting indeed stopped, but only until 10 November when the Taleban attacked Malestan’s district centre – more on this below.)

On 5 November, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) issued a press release on “the armed conflict in Uruzgan province,” saying that around 63 local people had been killed or injured in the Taleban attacks on the villages of Kondolan, Hussaini, Karez and Gerdai Chaman in Khas Uruzgan district, and that hundreds of families had been displaced.

On 6 November, Pajhwok reported that Asadullah Falah, the head of a government delegation, while visiting neighbouring Malestan and Jaghori (more on this below) had confirmed the killing of 40 civilians in recent clashes between the Taleban and an “illegal commander” in Khas Uruzgan and Malestan districts. The report also quoted Falah as saying that the Taleban had attacked residential buildings and villages and caused casualties to civilians and that around 500 families had been displaced. Later he told Hasht-e Sobh that 54 people had been killed: “After the people of these areas disobeyed the Taleban’s order, 25 people in Kondolan, nine people in Hussaini village and 20 in other villages of the district were killed by the Taleban. Eleven security forces were also killed in the fight in Khas Uruzgan. Six security forces were injured.” (5)

On 7 November, the president’s office reported that the commander-in-chief of the armed forces had reviewed the general security situation of Khas Uruzgan, Malestan and Jaghori (as well as other districts under threat, such as Qala-ye Kah in Farah and Chaharsada in Ghor). The statement said that the security forces had been instructed to present “a clear security picture and plan” and to take urgent action and that the US/NATO-led Resolute Support mission had promised air support.

The attack on Jaghori

On the same day, on 7 November, the Taleban went on the offensive in neighbouring Jaghori district. They attacked a number of posts in the Hutqul area, a village that borders Rasana in Gilan district, around 1:00 in the morning. The Taleban first attacked posts that were manned by Salam Akrami – a commander of around 30 local police (ALP) – in Awri Gardu. Then they moved to a post run by Habibullah Haidari, known as Bashi Habib, in Bazar-e Kohna Lashkarai, as well as posts in Ferozkoh manned by ALP and local uprising forces. (6) Khadim Hussain Karimi, a journalist from Hutqul, told AAN that the Taleban overran Salam’s posts – killing him and most of his men – as well as Bashi’s posts. They then moved to Bashi’s house where they killed him and two of his sons, in his home. (7) On the same night, the Taleban entered Daud village from Larga in Muqur district of Ghazni where they met no resistance.

Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed issued a statement on 7 November saying that their attack on Jaghori district was “against military centres of the enemy and against the Kabul administration and servants of America.” The statement emphasised that the attacks were not against any specific qawm (ethnicity), qeshr (group) or mazhab (religious sect) and called on “our countrymen in Jaghori district, especially Hazara and Shia … to be mindful of the conspiracy by the corrupt few and America’s lackeys sitting in Kabul” who might try to portray the Taleban attacks “as against the people.” The statement reiterated that, as they would do everywhere else in the country, the Taleban would “carry out attacks against the servants and lackeys of America and punish them for their acts of treason to their religion and country” and would “continue such attacks in Jaghori and other areas that remain under the control of the Kabul administration.”

Following these attacks, Ghazni MPs and provincial council members met Chief Executive Abdullah and NDS chief Muhammad Masum Stanekzai to call for the urgent dispatch of reinforcements. Both promised to send air support before the end of the day, if the fighting continued (see here). A day later, on 8 November, Ghazni spokesman Nuri said that the Taleban had been pushed back after security forces enforcements arrived, that 39 of the Taleban had been killed, and that clearance operations were on-going.

The Hutqul area, from where the Taleban first attacked, remained quiet on 9 and 10 November. On 11 November, the Taleban carried out another deadly assault that started at 3 am and continued until 7 am. Media reports differed as to the number of casualties. Etilaat Roz reported (see here) that 25 commando soldiers and 15 civilians had been killed.  A New York Times team that later travelled to Sang-e Masha reported that it had seen the bodies of 20 commandos which had been airlifted in four days earlier (on 8 November: see media report here) “laid … on sheets on the ground, side by side on their backs.” It is not clear how the Taleban managed to kill so many commandos in a single attack.

Journalist Karimi, quoted above, told AAN that the local uprising forces had been left demoralised after the high rate of commando casualties. As a result, on 13 November around 10 am, the Taleban captured the public uprising posts in Balna Koh in Hutqul without a fight (see here). The Taleban then, Karimi said, proceeded to capture several villages, including Hutqul, Anguri, Daud, Zirak, and Kotal Lokhak. They advanced towards the district centre, reaching as far as Kotal Dala and Kotal Loman.

On 17 November, the Ministry of Defence finally announced that military operations led by Muhammad Sharif Yaftali, the chief of army staff, had been launched to clear Jaghori and Malestan districts. (See media report here)

On 19 November the Taleban attacked Baba village in western Jaghori, killing three people (one guard of a telecommunication antenna tower and two public uprising forces) and wounding three more (see also this breaking news on Etilaat Roz Facebook page). Local sources told AAN that, on 9 November, the Taleban had already given an ultimatum to the people of Pato, Baba and Hicha, villages in the western part of Jaghori, saying they would come to no harm if they allowed the Taleban fighters to pass through on their way to Jaghori’s district centre, Sang-e Masha. After meetings and consultations, the local people in Baba and parts of Hicha decided to resist the Taleban’s demands to allow them to advance.

The attack on Baba on 19 November came after the Taleban had already entered parts of Hicha and Pato on 16 November. The Taleban entered Pato village based on a deal with Ibrahim Abbasi, a local commander of Hezb-e Islami-e Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. According to this post by Etilaat Roz journalist Esmat Sorush, as well as AAN’s local sources, Abbasi had several rounds of meetings with the Taleban and finally called on the people of Pato not to stand against the Taleban, arguing that they did not have the capability to fight. Abbasi, according to the sources, agreed to allow the Taleban’s advance towards the district centre, in return for the Taleban not harming the people of the village.

The Taleban attacked the Baba front on 22 November for the second time, killing a member of the uprising forces who had arrived from a neighbouring village, Chehel Baghtu, and injuring a few more (see here).

Attack on Malestan district centre

In the meantime, on 10 November, the Taleban attacked the district centre of Malestan, Meradina.‌‌ BBC quoted local people as saying that Taleban forces had crossed the Siah Baghal and Zawli areas in Khas Uruzgan the night before, driving Humvees and ranger pickups they had captured from the government. Muhammad Ali Akhlaqi, an MP from Malestan, told AAN that a convoy of 100 to 150 Taleban fighters had departed from Gandab in Khas Uruzgan, five to six kilometres from the Malestan border, in the morning of 8 November. The Taleban stopped at Kotal Kharzar, only five kilometres from Meradina, for a reconnaissance likely out of fear they might be ambushed if they proceeded.

Etilaat Roz reported that fighting between the Taleban and the security forces started at around 10 am of 10 November, after the Taleban had taken positions a few kilometres from Meradina under the shelter of darkness, including in people’s homes in Dahan-e Bum and Qushang, as well as in Moklai village, close to the district headquarter of Malestan.

After people heard the Taleban were attacking the district centre, the bazaar of Meradina closed and hundreds of families fled, including from Dahan-e Bum and Moklai, Etilaat Roz and the BBC reported. The BBC added that only men stayed behind, to protect their property and belongings. The police forces stationed at the district centre went out to fight the Taleban, but the special forces said they were not allowed to do so. That night, the Taleban advanced to within 200 metres of the district centre and there was fighting in the surrounding villages.

District governor Hedayat wrote on his Facebook page on 12 November that the Taleban had been pushed back by the security forces and on 18 November the Ministry of Interior announced that Malestan district had been totally cleared of “terrorists.” This was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence on 19 November, which said that in the fighting, 31 Taleban had been killed and 15 others wounded.

The Ministry of Interior also said that it had established two tolai (companies) of an “urdu-ye mantaqawi” or territorial army (a new initiative to set up community defence forces – supposedly – under the Ministry of Defence with ‘community’ involvement in their establishment, recruitment and, possibly, oversight – AAN background here). The Ministry of Interior also said it had mobilised 600 locals within the framework of public uprising forces (see footnote 6 for a description) in the two districts, saying they would be equipped and assigned to maintain security in their areas after receiving training.

Although the Taleban have been pushed back from both Jaghori and Malestan, many of those displaced are wary about returning, as they fear that with the departure of additional security forces, the Taleban fighters will return to the area (see for instance this BBC report here). Several sources have told AAN that Taleban reinforcements, including the notorious red units had come from other areas to help with the fight in Jaghori and Malestan (including from  Ajirestan in Uruzgan and Gilan and Andar districts in Ghazni). Although they have now returned to their own areas, they could be called on again in the future. 

Conclusion: The local population pays the price for the conflict

The fighting in the three districts led to massive displacement, at a time when winter has already come. Presidential adviser Muhammad Aziz Bakhtyari, a member of the government’s fact-finding delegation told the BBC on 14 November that 60 to 70 per cent of civilians from Jaghori and Malestan had been displaced (the figure might be only from areas that experienced actual fighting, though). Most of those fleeing the violence, or threat of violence, travelled to Bamyan, Ghazni and Kabul, while smaller groups of IDPs from Khas Uruzgan, Malestan and Jaghori arrived in Tirinkot, the capital of Uruzgan province, and Daikundi.

Bamyan: During the fighting, the number of IDPs arriving in Bamyan rose rapidly. On 13 November, the head of Bamyan’s department of refugees and repatriation told AAN that his staff had counted 2,000 arrivals, mainly from Jaghori. The next day, Ismail Zaki, a human rights activist in Bamyan, told AAN that a total of 450 families (around 4,000 people, most of them women and children) had arrived. The night before, snowfall had closed the road and many cars had become stuck in Nawur district of Ghazni. According to a UNOCHA flash update of 21 November, “the unverified figures of IDP families in Bamyan Center rose from 930 families (6,510 individuals) to 1,208 families (8,456 individuals).”

Zaki said that around 50 families had been given shelter in the state-run Garzandoy Hotel; the rest had been hosted by local residents. He himself also hosted two families – 22 people, all women and children – who had arrived in Bamyan by car. The drivers, he said, had been 13 and 14 years old. Apparently, many of the drivers had been under-age and often not skilled enough for the long road, but they had had to drive because their fathers had either stayed back in the villages, to protect their properties, or were abroad. Zaki said that he himself had seen two young girls drive their families to Bamyan.

Ghazni: On 20 November, the BBC quoted the head of Ghazni’s provincial department of refugees, Abdul Khaleq Ahmadi, as saying that 2,511 families had been displaced to Ghazni, 70 per cent of whom were women and children (the figure was also reported by OCHA in its flash update, cited above). The IDPs had faced many problems on the way. The Taleban closed the Nawur-Ghazni city road on 13 November and many who had fled Jaghori and Malestan were forced to turn back. The road between Sang-e Masha and Ghazni city, through Qarabagh district, had also been closed since the day the Taleban attacked Jaghori, although it was not clear whether the Taleban had really blocked it or whether people had simply not dared to travel on it.

On 9 November, the Taleban cut off two major telecommunication networks (Roshan and Etisalat) in Jaghori and Malestan, which rendered many people unable to contact their family members there.

A person who travelled the Nawur-Ghazni road on 15 November told AAN that it was reopened but that the Taleban had stopped vehicles and checked passengers’ tazkeras (national ID cards). One traveller who had been stopped told AAN that he had been asked what his occupation was and whether he had gone to school, whether there was any fighting in Jaghori, whether he had a Facebook account, how many people in Jaghori had become Christian and how many churches there were. He said the Taleban also checked his hands (perhaps to see whether he was a white- or blue-collar worker) and had taken his Facebook address.

Kabul: OCHA’s flash update of 21 November said that in Kabul “the number of reported and unverified IDP families stood at 1,066 families (7,462 individuals). 123 families (861 individuals), out of the 642 families (4,494 individuals) that were verified, were identified as vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance.” OCHA suggested there was “a new trend” of IDPs moving from Malestan and Jaghori to Kabul and then to Bamyan.

People were also displaced within Jaghori and Malestan. Their numbers, according to OCHA, were estimated to be 500 and 600 families respectively. Moreover, a female teacher who had escaped the fighting in her village told AAN that all schools had been closed since 8 November, the second day of the attack on Jaghori (which according to this Etilaat Roz report has 105 schools – 62 high, 22 middle and 21 primary – where 50,686 pupils – 26,694 male and 23,988 female – are enrolled).

This high number of IDPs seems to indicate both a high level of fear of the Taleban and the atrocities they may commit when taking over the areas (especially after the reports of indiscriminate killing in Khas Uruzgan), and a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to effectively protect the population. Both points are reflected in this Washington Post article that says:

One militiaman who fled to Bamian, Habibullah Ahmadi, 48, said he had lost faith that the government would protect them. Several others said that Taliban representatives had told villagers they wouldn’t be harmed if they stayed indoors, but that nobody trusted them.

 

(1) A source from Khas Uruzgan provided the following details:

In Hussaini, five people were killed on the first day of the attack (including three people aged above 70): three people were made to disembark a vehicle and were then killed; two people were dragged out of their homes and killed outside. There was no fighting on the second night. On the third night, villagers returned to their houses to feed their livestock (cows, sheep and goats). Four people were killed: one of them was Ibrahim who was aged 84; two others were killed while trying to flee the village; one person who had visited his family in Kondolan was killed when he returned to Hussaini.

In Kondolan the following killings were reported: On the fourth day, Haji Abdullah, aged 69, who had just returned from hajj was killed when some Taleban fighters went to his house for tea (and possibly bread or food). He was providing the tea when another Taleban fighter arrived; as he stood to greet and hug him, the Taleban fighter shot him to death.

On the sixth day, one person called Ishaq Jaghori Gu (he was called Jaghori Gu because he had lived in Jaghori for a while) was taken out of his home and killed in front of his house. A young person, aged 18 or 19, was killed in a valley after he had been taken from his home. Two people who had been guests in Karez were killed with gun bayonets.

(2) One source who originally comes from Khas Uruzgan told AAN that the woman fought back the Taleban fighters, allowing Shujai to escape. The woman was later captured by the Taleban and taken away. He also said that three of Shujai’s men had been killed.

(3) The delegation that was tasked with “finding the root cause of how the conflict occurred, take action to solve it, and submit its findings to the president” consisted of the following people: Ustad Muhammad Akbari, a Ghazni MP; Mawlawi Muhammad Jora Taheri and Mawlawi Mohiuddin Baluch, both presidential advisers for religions affairs; Eid Muhammad Ahmadi, presidential adviser for social affairs; Muhammad Alam Rasekh, presidential adviser for scientific and social affairs; Mawlawi Sayyed Rahman Haqani Pashai, adviser to the Commission for Conflict Resolution and People’s Relation with the Government; authorised representatives of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior Affair and National Directorate of Security (NDS); Attorney General’s Office; Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) and the Department of Defence and Security in the administrative office of the president.

(4) On 4 November 2018, the deputy presidential spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, posted a new version of the decree on his Facebook page (but still with the original date of 1 November). The new decree called for an investigation into “the civilian casualties of the recent incident in Uruzgan province” and added two new – Hazara – members to the delegation (Dr Muhammad Rasul Taleban, presidential adviser on social affairs, and Muhammad Aziz Bakhtyari, presidential adviser on social and cultural affairs). The head of the delegation, Asadullah Falah, when visiting the area later on 7 November, told the residents of Malestan that the fighting in Uruzgan had been “misreported” to the president as ethnically based.

(5) Most sources agree that well over 50 people were killed in Khas Uruzgan alone. A former official in Khas Uruzgan said 58 people had been killed. Former governor of Daikundi Qurban Ali Uruzgani told AAN he had received reports that 57 people had been martyred, 25 people wounded (some still under treatment) and six people captured who had subsequently been released.

A source provided the following list of 41 people killed in the fighting in Khas Uruzgan:

  • Four from Hamza: Khan Muhammad, son of Ali Hamza; Mullah Daud, son of Mullah Baz Muhammad; Ahmad Shah, son of Haji Nabi; Muhammad Esa, son of Baz Muhammad
  • Eight from Hussaini: Shir Mahdawi, son of Madad; Muhammad Ali, son of Qanbar; Salman, son of Aziz; Usta Salman; Ibrahim, son of Mami; Sultan, son of Sami; Rezwani, son of Tata; Amir Khan, son of Shah Hussain
  • Eleven from Kondolan: Abdul Khaleq, son of Mullah Bustan; Eshaq, son of Juma; Jan Ali, son of Askar; Sakhidad, son of Khan; Abdul Samad, son of Arbab Haidar; Eshaq, son of Ghulam Hussain; Reza, son of Ghulam Hussain; Reza, son of Ghulam Sakhi; Amir Khan, son of Shah Hussain; Jan Ali, son of Ghulam; Khudad, son of Nawruz
  • Five from Kariz: Abdul Khaleq, son of Eshaq; Qambar, son of Eshaq; Akhar Muhammad, son of Abdul Zawar; Shir Muhammad, son of Ghulam Ali; Malek Abdullah, son of Ghulam Reza
  • One from Pashi: Fakuri
  • One from Paik
  • Three from Zardak: Haji Abdul Hussain Rahimi, son of Ali Rahm; Hamid Muradi, son of Muhammad; Karbalayi Amin Saadat, son of Haji Ghulam Hussain
  • One from Jaghori: Ustad Muhammad Taqi Fazilat

He added that this was not a complete list, since many victims had not been identified yet. Several sources also said the Taleban had not allowed people to film or photograph the dead and those who buried them did not recognise some of them as they had been defaced with bullets.

(6) As AAN has written (in this background paper on militias), the ALP in its current form was created out of local militias in 2010. “Since 2012, it has become increasingly institutionalised within the Ministry of Interior. Another type of local force also emerged from 2012 onwards. So-called ‘uprising forces’ (patsunian in Pashto and khezesh in Persian) were supposedly spontaneous rebellions organised by locals against the insurgency, although they usually turned out to have been prompted by or were soon supported/co-opted by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and/or Independent Directorate of Local Government (IDLG).”

The forces that fought back the Taleban in the Hazara areas in Khas Uruzgan, Malestan and Jaghori, and that have been referred to in as uprising forces in some media reports,  might have been part of these forces, but they may have also taken up arms spontaneously to repel the Taleban’s attacks.

(7) The Taleban released a video on 23 November that showed a cameraman talking with local residents and local Taleban fighters in the Anguri and Deh Murda areas of Jaghori. A Taleban fighter in Anguri told him: “We have been here for the last several days. When we first came here, there were eight security posts. We defeated the policemen and uprising people and several of them were killed. When we got close to the Anguri area, someone was wounded in front of his house. He was receiving several calls. After he was wounded, we took his weapons. Later when he died, we learned that he was Habibullah Bashi [Bashi Habib].”

 

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Thematic Category: War & Peace