JALALABAD (PAN): Officials say the Hesarak district of Nangarhar province has been under siege from insurgents and has been out of government’s control for seven months.
Abdul Khaliq Maroof, the district’s administrative head, told Pajhwok Afghan News he has discussed the problem many times with the provincial administration, but no remedial steps had been taken so far.
Maroof said the insurgents were killing and harassing people, but lacked resources and personnel to take on them. “People are tortured and seized by militants, but we don’t have weapons to fight them with.”
He said the district was protected from falling to insurgents only with support of his family and relatives, but he warned this support would stop if the government fails to provide help.
“We have snapped contacts with the provincial administration due to its constant apathy” the official said, making clear he would resume interaction with the governor’s office only when a massive security operation was launched in the district.
“I have protected the district for the past seven months on my own. But now, I am running out of even my personal resources,” the district chief complained.
He estimated over 1,000 local and foreign militants were active in the district, which had 48 policemen — most of them his relatives. Even, weapons were supplied by his relatives and locals, he claimed.
A provincial security official, who did not want to be named, said the district chief had clashed over the telephone with the governor on the issue of weapons supply.
Locals confirmed the district had been under Taliban’s siege for the past seven months, forcing many residents to flee their homes.
A tribal elder, Dr Muhammad Naeem, said a recent uprising against the insurgents had failed and its members fled the area after the government refused to support them.
Another elder, Sultan Jan, said insurgents continued to attack the town. Six people were killed in the most recent assault on the residence of an influential man.
“Fighting has been ongoing for three days in Hesarak,” Jan said, warning the district could fall to the militants anytime.
But the governor’s spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai and police chief Masoom Khan Hashimi dismissed the impression that Hesarak was on the verge of being lost to rebels. They refused commenting on the shortage of weapons and police force.