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Taliban training foreign fighters in Shindand: official

Taliban training foreign fighters in Shindand: official

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Mar 11, 2017 - 16:37

HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): The district chief for Shindand district of western Herat province on Saturday said the Talibaninfo-icon had established military training centres in the district.

Hikmatullah Hikmat told a press conference here besides the Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban also held broad sway in the district.

He said the Taliban had set up makeshift military camps imparting training to foreign fighters especially Pakistanis for 10 to 15 days.

The district chief, however, said the situation had improved over the past few months. A few months back, the Taliban had been closing in on the Shindand bazaar battling security forces in 500 metres from the bazaar.

However, back-to-back operations by security forces for six months helped improve the security situation in Shindand, Hikmat said.

“The Taliban have a strong presence in Zirkoh and Zawal areas of the district. Their three military bases exist in Zirkoh and most of the fighters are loyal to Mullahinfo-icon Haibatuallah, Taliban’s supreme commander.”

Besides Pakistani Taliban, the official said he would not rule out the presence of fighters from Iran. “I confirm the presence of Iranians because we share border with them and I say they are directly meddling.” Hikmat said 400 to 450 Taliban insurgents were operating in the district.

Some days earlier, a former jihadiinfo-icon commander Ismail Khan accused the government of escorting and protecting motorcades of Mullah Nangialai and Mullah Niazai of a splinter Taliban group led by Mullah Rassoul.

The group developed differences with the Taliban leadership after the death of Taliban’s founder and long time supremo Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The two Taliban commanders have been active and fighting against security forces in Shindand district, according to Ismail Khan, a former water and energy minister.

However, the Shindand district chief rejected Khan’s claim that the government was supporting the two Taliban leaders as baseless. He said Mullah Nangialai and Mullah Niazai were the enemies of security forces.

Hikmat said the Shidand district had been divided into five administrative units, including Zirkoh, Qasaba, Posht Koh, Zawal and Kohzawar.  

Meanwhile, Jilani Farhad, the Herat governor’s spokesman, said about 20 to 30 percent area of the province was under Taliban’s control.

He said security forces in Herat had been able to confront and defeat the Taliban and if needed they would conduct mopping-up operations in different parts of the province.

However, he said they lacked enough police personnel to preserve areas which had been retaken from insurgents by establishing security posts. He said the division of Shindand into five districts would help improve the security situation.

sns/ma

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