Panjwai residents battle Taliban

Feb. 13, 2013 at 12:03 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Residents in Afghanistan's Kandahar province are battling Taliban militants with the latest clashes representing an ongoing campaign by locals against the Taliban.

The skirmishes are significant because Kandahar is the spiritual home of the Taliban movement and Taliban leader Mullah Omar established his base there.

Kandahar provincial citizens say that they have killed at least three Taliban militants in the latest round of clashes in the district.

Abdul Wadood, one of the resistance organizers, stated that the Panjwai district residents started fighting against the Taliban militants after inhabitants of Chahar Qaria area were mistreated and tortured by Taliban militants.

In a further indication of the depth of the resistance, Panjwai district chief Fazal Mohammad Ishaq said that he supports the residents' fight against Taliban militants and that the local government is prepared to assist the local fighters, Khamaa Press newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Taliban have yet to comment on the report.

Public uprising against the Taliban militants started from Andar district of eastern Ghazni province and later expanded to the southern regions of the country.

The residents aren't alone, as on Feb. 8 the U.S. Defense Department reported that a NATO International Security Assistance Force, in conjunction with units from the Afghan National Army combined operation force in Kandahar's Panjwai district, arrested a Taliban leader who operated out of central Kandahar city, believed to be responsible for organizing bombing operations targeting Afghan and coalition forces, along with detaining two other suspected insurgents.

Afghan media reports state that injured Afghan government spy chief Asadullah Khalid has been active in supportive in backing anti-Taliban uprisings in insurgent-held areas of eastern Afghanistan.

Public uprisings in Afghan provinces such as Kandahar are increasing concerns among Afghan parliamentary members and other government officials, who are concerned that the clashes will lead to serious security challenges in the future for the Afghan government.

In the interim, ISAF forces are attempting to win hearts and kinds by supporting infrastructure projects. As electricity remains a scare resource in Kandahar city, four separate projects designed to improve electricity distribution in key areas of the city are scheduled for completion this year. ISAF Regional Command-South is overseeing the projects.

"Regional Command-South's goal with these projects is to connect Afghan Government District Centers to the Kandahar City power grid, which is a sustainable power source, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Bensburg, who oversees RC-South's Stability Division.

"When we get that done we will have achieved one of RC-South's decisive points. The four projects will make use of completion kits currently stored by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Kandahar City, which is another plus because the selected contractor will have access to many materials immediately."

Bensburg said that once USACE awarded electric improvement projects "we were able to develop a plan for erecting and connecting distribution lines in key areas of Kandahar to those main transmission lines being rehabilitated by USACE in its projects."

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