Two weeks after the start of an operation in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province, security forces have not succeeded in arresting Alipoor, a local commander who is accused of downing an army helicopter last month in which nine people were killed.
Security forces said that at least 10 armed men loyal to Alipoor have been killed and some vehicles that belonged to the local commander have been seized during the operation.
A TOLOnews reporter was the first to visit the crash site where the debris of the downed helicopter is still visible. A lawmakers’ team also visited the district on Friday.
The government said that the helicopter was downed by armed men loyal to Alipoor on March 20. Alipoor at first took responsibility for the incident but later denied his involvement.
“He must surrender to the law or we will fight against him, whether he is killed or arrested,” said Hamid Saifi, commander of the 5th regiment of 203 Thunder Corps. “We are firmly ready for this.”
Alipoor’s whereabouts are still unknown.
Some residents claimed that civilians were harmed during the operation against Alipoor.
Mohammad Naqi, a resident of Behsud, claimed that a pregnant woman and a child were wounded in an airstrike by security forces on a house in the district.
“If he (Alipoor) is guilty in real, this matter should be solved through our elders as they should sit and talk and solve the issue through court. If he is not guilty, then what is our sin?” Naqi asked.
“Innocent people were killed and wounded here. This should not have happened,” said Hamidullah, a resident of Behsud.
Some operation bases belonging to Alipoor have been targeted by security forces during the operation. According to a TOLOnews reporter, parts of the main operation center belonging to Alipoor have been destroyed by airstrikes.
“13 people belonging to Alipoor have been killed. Airstrikes have been conducted following the collapse of the helicopter. The situation is now good and under control,” Maidan Wardak Police Chief Wahidullah Nizami.
In response to a question on harm to civilians, Nizami said: “It is war and naturally some problems happening.”
The MPs’ team who visited the district said they will assess the downing of the helicopter and claims of harm to civilians.
“We are neither in love with Alipoor nor any other person. We will support any person who will ensure our safety. There wasn’t anyone else to ensure our security,” said Ramazan Saberi, a tribal elder in Behsud.
“Security forces have no right to bombard any residential house, but we should not forget that a person who lives in a place does not have the right to give sanction to the militia to enter their house from where they can attack our security forces,” said Mir Haidar Afzali, head of the defense committee of the parliament.
“The only way to fight against threats to our security is through the government,” said Ali Akbar Jamshidi, a member of the Behsud probe team.
According to local sources, at least 10 civilians have been killed and wounded in government forces airstrikes in Behsud.
Security forces in Behsud said their operation to retake weapons and vehicles from Alipoor and his armed men is underway.