152 Maqur villages cleared of Taliban

Ghazni (PAN): A leader of the anti-Taliban public uprising in the Maqur district of southern Ghazni province on Monday claimed they had cleared most areas of insurgents.
Fed up with atrocities unleashed on them by the militants, residents of Maqur district took up arms against them four months ago, said Syed Ali, who leads the uprising.
Ali told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview the uprising involved youth of the area and they have been able to clear152 villages from the Taliban, a process ongoing successfully to date.
However, he complained the government had not yet extended them support they needed, praising security forces for occasionally backing them during direct engagements with the rebels.
Located about 100 km south of Ghazni City, the district lies on the Kabul-Kandahar highway and had been the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and militants before the popular uprising began.
Ali said the security situation in Maqur had been bad in the past when police would feel insecure while patrolling local bazaars and villages. Police and other security forces could easily perform their routine tasks, thanks to the public uprising, the tribesman said.
 “At the start, we were only three persons who opted to clear our area of the Taliban, but now we have 160 young men who enjoy support from local populations,” he said.
Ali claimed government officials and aid workers now felt safe to work or travel to Moqur and they needed no security guards or police escort.
He said previously government and non-government organisations officials could not work on reconstruction projects due to Taliban activities. The Taliban had killed and kidnapped many workers of construction firms, he continued.
He was optimistic the government would soon launch reconstruction projects under the national solidarity programme and village shuras would be created to oversee the implementation process.
Ali said previously they held a fewer number of weapons when they waged the uprising, but currently they used weapons and ammunitions they had discovered or seized during their operations against the insurgents.
The Taliban would fire at and attack police posts in local bazaars from a distance of 200 meters, but now they were unable to enter Maqur and have no courage to enter a fight face-to-face battle with the uprising members, he said.
He lamented the weapons they possessed were too little compared to those with the Taliban. "If we receive financial aid and ammunitions from the government, we will extend our campaign to neighbouring districts," he said.