At least 16 Taliban members were killed in an Afghan security forces’ operation in northern Balkh province in the past two days, local officials confirmed on Sunday.
The operation, “Walid 9”, was launched in Chamtal district and so far five villages have been cleared of insurgents, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Akram Sami claimed.
“Sixteen Taliban members were killed in the operation and the bodies of eight of them remain on the ground,” Sami said, adding that “Shorabak, Arab-Mazari, Jar Qala, Ayen Qala and Alizaye are the villagesthat have been cleared of insurgents.”
The officials said that the operation was launched when the Taliban closed in on the Chamtal district center.
Sami said the Taliban fighters involved in the assault had come in from Sar-e-Pul, Jawzjan and Balkh province and had planned to take control of the district center. However, the “Taliban were defeated by the security forces,” he said.
In the meantime, Gen. Jalaluddin Yaftali, a commander from 209 Shaheen Military Corps said “the army forces played a key role in the clearing operation.”
“Currently the army is continuing the operation and we are working on a plan to develop this operation and also move it to Alizaye and Chahar Bolak districts and also to other areas where the enemies are active,” Yaftali said, adding that “we will follow the insurgents.”
A number of people have however been displaced from the area after the operation was launched.
These displaced people welcomed the operation but said “more security check posts must be established in the district, otherwise the Taliban will return.”
“In the past three nights, there was more insecurity in Chamtal and my family had to flee from Dasht-e-Awliya area,” a resident of Chamtal Ali Mohammad said.
Abdul Jabar, another Chamtal resident, said: “I hope that peace comes to our district and we can live in peace. That schools reopen and streets are rebuilt.”
A senior official in Balkh said on Friday four villages in Chamtal district had fallen to the Taliban following heavy clashes on Thursday evening.
Afzal Hadid, head of Balkh Provincial Council, told TOLOnews on Friday that the Taliban had gained on the district center and were planning to seize control of the area.
Chamtal is located in the west of Balkh and is among the most vulnerable districts in the province in terms of insecurity.