Afghan commando forces in an operation have cleared the Baghlan-Balkh highway from Taliban "checkpoints" during an operation this week, security officials said on Sunday.
The Taliban was extorting people on the highway, “earning millions of afghanis” a day, army forces said.
“Over the last two days, we had successful operations in ‘Highway No. 1’ as well as in Kelagai area (in Baghlan). The enemy’s outposts have been removed and at least 17 of them have been killed,” said Mohammad Ali Yazdani, Commander of 217 Shaheen Corps.
The commando forces who took part in the operation said they will continue their efforts to block such attempts by the militants.
“The enemy has been dispersed. The enemy’s ability has been reduced in Baghlan,” said Mujib Rahman, a commando officer.
“We will not allow Afghanistan’s enemies to reach their heinous goals,” said Abdul Karim, a commando soldier.
Some shopkeepers along the Baghlan-Balkh highway said that the “extortion” of truck drivers by the Taliban will affect their business.
“Their 'customs' of Afs15,000 to Afs20,000 from every vehicle had negatively impacted the prices (of goods),” said Feroz, a Baghlan resident.
“With the 'customs duty,' Afs10 is added to every bag (of commodities),” said Baryalai, a Baghlan resident.
Baghlan-Balkh highway is one of the key routes that connects the north of the country with Kabul and other provinces in the center and east of Afghanistan.