Millennium Post

Terrorists now taking over Afghan countryside

The smoke from mortar and rocket attacks rises from the mountains of Dangam in the remote eastern border region of Afghanistan as Talban insurgents battle government forces in a bid to establish a permanent presence now that the American soldiers who led the fight here for more than a decade have left.

Heavy fighting has been raging for almost three weeks, with wave after wave of Taliban militants assaulting this district of Kunar province just four kilometres from the border with Pakistan, residents said.

The war is meanwhile creeping into urban and residential areas, putting ordinary people at greater risk. Civilian casualties look set to hit 10,000 in 2014, the highest yearly total of dead and wounded since the UN began keeping records in 2008.

More than 75 per cent of the deaths and injuries are caused by Taliban attacks, according to the UN.
There are few places where Afghan forces have been tested as ferociously as in Dangam, a forested valley where life has changed little for centuries.

The fighting began when local residents decided they had had enough of the Taliban, who had set up a “shadow” administration and were attempting to take control of the valley, according to General Mohammad Zaman Waziri, Afghan army corps commander for eastern Afghanistan.

The Afghan army came to help, he said, and fighting has been going on ever since.

Up to 550 families have been forced from their homes, and more than 40 houses have been destroyed, Kunar governor Sheja-ul Mulk Jalala said.

“The terrorists have very important goals in Dangam, such as establishing permanent bases or transferring their bases from the other side of the border, crushing the local people’s uprising and of course creating problems for Afghan security forces,” said Haseb Sediqi, spokesman for the National Security Directorate intelligence agency.

Officials said that since December more than 1,000 heavily armed insurgents have turned up here, including members of the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group responsible for the attacks on Mumbai in 2008 in which more than 160 people were killed.


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