Two years ago extra security forces were deployed to Dasht-e-Archi district in Kunduz to clear the area of Taliban, but heavy clashes are still ongoing as security forces struggle to regain complete control of the area.
TOLOnews journalist Tamim Hamid visited the area and found the continued clashes have forced hundreds of families to flee the area – and others incurring heavy financial losses.
Local security officials in Dasht-e-Archi said they have been unable to regain control of the area as Taliban are equipped with modern weapons and a large number of Taliban commanders are stationed there.
Security officials also said the Taliban has five large training centers in the area.
“Dasht-e-Archi is a very strong center for the insurgents. They have training centers in a few places where their fighters receive training for military, tactical, weapons use, planting of mines and other things,” said Niaz Mohammad, the district police chief.
“Dasht-e-Archi is over five areas: Kokcha area, Talqan, Khanabad, Dasht-e-Abadan and Imam Sahib district. We can say Dasht-e-Archi is a strategic point both for us and the enemy,” Hamid Yusufi, commander of the national army operation said.
In Dasht-e-Archi district, there are 57 schools and Madrassas of which only 14 schools are in areas under government control, while the rest are in areas under Taliban control, said officials.
Most government departments are closed in the district.
The former district governor’s buildings in Dasht-e-Archi is the site of almost daily clashes between security forces and Taliban, Hamid reports.
Two years ago Taliban attacked the district and occupied the district buildings. Since then the buildings and surrounds have been the scene of heavy clashes despite security forces being stationed there.
Soldiers have said the Taliban recently made a fresh attempt to take control of the district governor’s buildings and the surrounding area. However, security continue to keep them at bay.
“In Dasht-e-Archi the enemy tried a lot to occupy our strongholds and carry out offensives against us,” Sayed Maroof, a national army officer said.
According to the soldiers the Taliban recently dug a tunnel into the district governor’s compound. However, troops poured water into the tunnel, causing it to collapse. According to the soldiers, there is now a gaping hole in the road.
Both sides, Taliban and security forces, use civilian houses as strongholds, Hamid reports adding that the whereabouts of the home owners are not known.
Residents of the district said they are tired of war and violence. They asked government to address the challenges they face.
“10 meters away from the city square, there is a military base. Then why isn’t Dasht-e-Archi secure? Bullets smash into people houses,” Gul Ahmad, a resident said.
“Our children shake in their cradles because of gunfire,” Abdul Jabar, another resident said.
“A shopkeeper will keep his shop at the bazaar open until late but not one person will buy even a sandal from him. A butcher slaughtered a sheep three days ago, but no one buys the meat from him,” Yaqob Safari, another resident said.