KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): As many as 4,000 illegal armed men, who are allegedly harassing residents and creating security problems in northern Kunduz province, will be disarmed, an official said on Monday.
The gunmen, introducing themselves as tribal militia members, are collecting ushr and extorting money from the locals, said the 209th Shaheen Military Corps commander, Mohammad Zaman Waziri.
If the armed people, already identified by the Afghan National Army (ANA), do not surrender their weapons, the government will conduct an operation against them, the military commander warned.
Currently, there are more than 4,000 illegal armed individuals in Khanabad district, the deputy police chief, Abdul Rahman Aqtash, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
A day earlier, a gathering of Afghan civil and military officials, tribal elders, as well as ISAF representatives discussed the need for disarming the gunmen.
More than 1,500 tribal militiamen have been equipped and armed by the government to help maintain security in several areas of the province. Some 1,200 of them are to be recruited into local police.
The local police force is registered with the Ministry of Interior, but tribal militias only help maintain security in certain areas. Insecurity caused by illegal armed people could pave the way for Taliban‘s return, an official warned.
Speaking at Sunday’s gathering, Mahboobullah Mahboob, chief of provincial council, suggested the armed people should be recruited in the local police force. The rest should be disarmed.
On the other hand, commanders of the armed groups say they are ready to turn in their weapons if the government gives them jobs in the local police force.
“One year ago, we were the first people to kick Taliban out from our area. If the government disarms us, then we would not be able to defend ourselves. Therefore, we should be recruited into local police,” said one of the armed commanders, Mohammad Omar.
Without giving information about the number of his supporters and the weapons they have, he feared if the fighters returned, they would kill him and his people.
Another commander, Hussain, had similar fears. Taliban fighters are still in the area, and they will kill him if he is disarmed, the man said.
“We have to have weapons. If we are disarmed, the fighters will kill us,” he said, refusing to surrender his weapons, if the government does not offer him a job in the local police.
As many as 150 people would be appointed to the local police force in first step and another 400 in the second, the deputy police chief said. The armed people recommended by tribal elders would be recruited, he promised.
Local elders and provincial council members appreciated the initiative of the Afghan government to disarm the illegally armed people. Last month, about 50 families in the Aqtash area of the district said armed people had forced them to flee their houses.
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