At least 35% of the territory in Balkh district in the northern province of Balkh is under the government’s control while the remaining parts are either under Taliban influence or are contested between the two sides, an official said.
Balkh district has 184 villages, district governor Mohammad Yunus Stanekzai said, adding that 65 of them are under the government’s control.
The district has 180 members of public uprising forces who have a big role in ensuring the security of the district, Stanekzai said.
Balkh district is 24 kilometers far from Mazar-e-Sharif city, the center of Balkh, and is known as one of the most insecure districts in the province. The district has witnessed two big attacks in the last two months: one on an army base and another on police headquarters.
The district governor said that the public uprising forces need further support in terms of equipment.
“Balkh district has 184 districts. Unfortunately, most of the villages are under the opposition’s influence, but fortunately, we have a good percentage under our control where the morale is very high… At least 35% of the villages are under the government’s control.”
At least 20 members of public uprising forces are stationed at an outpost 4 kilometers far from Boka district, which is often contested between government forces and the Taliban. Security forces at the outpost said they are always ready to defend their areas against any threat from militants.
“Taliban attack whenever they find an opportunity, but we are fully ready to defend,” said Agha Mohammad, a commander of public uprising forces.
Another member of the public uprising forces said that clashes have intensified over the last few days.
“This area is called Piaaz-Kar. It is the frontline. The enemy roams here every night, but they have failed in their evil goal. They attack, but they are suppressed, they are defeated and then they go back,” said Hafizullah, a member of public uprising forces.
According to the local forces, the Taliban uses people’s homes for the war, a claim that was rejected by the group.
“These homes have been used in many attacks on us. They have shelled rockets on us from these homes, but they cannot succeed. We have given them a tit-for-tat response and we will do the same, going forward,” said Gulab Khan, a public uprising forces member.
The continuation of clashes in the district has created concerns among the resident who says violence must stop.
“The foreigners are leaving our country, but still attacks are happening in our district in which only civilians are harmed,” said Saifuddin, a Balkh resident.
“They destroyed houses, killed our people, and left them with a dark future, they planted mines. What is the sin of these Muslims? They are civilians,” said Abdul Jabbar, a Balkh resident.