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‘9 civilians killed, houses plundered in Dostum-led offensive’

‘9 civilians killed, houses plundered in Dostum-led offensive’

Jul 02, 2016 - 17:00

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The residents of Dawlatabad district of northern Faryab province say security forces led by First-Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum and uprising groups loyal to his party, Junbish-i-Milli Islami, have arrested 81 civilians in the district.

They said few days ago local police backed by uprising members entered their village and launched a house-to-house search operation, killing nine civilians and taking away household belongings of people.

Government officials in Faryab confirmed the operation and only confirmed the arrest of 81 people and denied other incidents.

They said Shash Par village in Dawlatabad had been turned into a Taliban centre and the rebels used to always threaten security on the Andokhi-Maimana highway, loot passengers and behead security forces.

Shash Par village is situated along the Andokhi-Maimana highway 10 km north of the Dawlatabad district centre and almost all residents of the village are Pashtuns.

Resident and tribal elder of the area, Haji Sardar, told Pajhwok Afghan News that they had been invaded in the name of operation against Taliban.

He said four days ago, local police from Dawlatabad, Andokhi and Khwaja Sabzposh districts entered their village along with uprising members in the name of operation against militants.

“During the operation, each house was searched in a disorganized manner, people were misbehaved, mistreated and applied cruel tactics,” he claimed.

He said during the operation two Taliban militants, who had been forcibly living the district, were arrested while some residents were killed, arrested and even their houses plundered.

The elder claimed nine civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed and 81 others arrested and taken away.

He said they were not opposed to Dostum-led military operation, but some former Junbish commanders wanted to rekindle past differences.

Another resident of Shash Par village, Mohammad Din, whose brother was killed during the operation, said besides killing and abducting local residents some houses were also looted.

He claimed under the guise of operation 600 solar panels, 170 motorcycles and 37 rickshaws were taken away with them by the local police and uprising members.

He said one hospital and 26 shops were also looted and 13 homes were set afire and completely gutted.

Residents of the village said the civilians arrested in their village had been taken to Shiberghan, the capital of northern Jawzjan province, and they did not know whether they were alive or dead.

Ghausuddin, whose brother was also killed during the operation, said he would not speak only about his brother, but about all the 81 men arrested. “If one of them is found guilty of having connection with Taliban and evidence is produced against him, all of the detainees be punished in accordance with the country’s law.”

He said he was confident none of the arrested men had connection with Taliban. He said the operation only resulted in the arrest of two Taliban men who were recognized by all. One of the two Taliban was a shadow district chief for Qaiser district, he said.

Ghausuddin said the residents were subjected to harassment in the memory of the past wars and government machinery was misused during the operation.

He urged the central government to launch a serious investigation into the operations in the north.

Faryab officials confirm the Dostum-led operation and the arrest of 81 men, but deny other incidents.

Javed Ahmad Bidar, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Shah Par village was an important centre of Taliban and operation against the rebels had to be launched.

He said the operation had not been conducted by Faryab security forces, but directly by the Dostum-led forces.

A day after the operation, Bidar said, some elders from the Shash Par village arrived at the governor’s house and complained about the arrest of innocent people.

He said the visiting elders did not mention any other incident taking place during the operation and they were only demanding the release of the detainees.

He said the elders were assured if the men detained were innocent, the governor’s house would not stay silent about their release.

Bidar said if people had been really harassed, mistreated or killed and their houses looted and torched during the operation, the provincial government would strongly condemn that.

Bidar said there had been a strong Taliban centre in the Shash Par village along the Andokhi-Maimana highway.

He said about 20 days ago, militants from the same village beheaded a local policeman who was travelling from Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, to Maimana, the capital of Faryab, along with his wife.

About two months ago, insurgents from Shash Par village abducted 80 passengers and took them hostage, prompting an operation on the village.