Saturday, October 25, 2014


Afghanistan

Afghans Demand Intervention After 'Pakistani Taliban' Attacks

An Afghan family look on from their house in the mountains of Nuristan Province. Locals say Islamist militants have crossed the border from Pakistan and taken over whole districts.
An Afghan family look on from their house in the mountains of Nuristan Province. Locals say Islamist militants have crossed the border from Pakistan and taken over whole districts.
By Rohullah Anwari and Frud Bezhan
KONAR, Afghanistan -- Local Afghan officials have called for a military intervention in the country's northeast after scores of suspected Pakistani Taliban fighters overran several districts in Nuristan, a remote province bordering Pakistan.

Ghulamullah Nuristani, the security chief in Nuristan, says the militants captured the Kamdesh and Bargmatal districts of Nuristan two weeks ago and have torched dozens of homes and threatened to kill local villagers who work for the Afghan government.

Nuristani has called on NATO and the Afghan government to intervene, insisting that the small contingent of local police is powerless to stop the militants in Nuristan, from where U.S. forces withdrew in 2009.

"If anybody opposes them, the insurgents burn their homes and threaten to kill them. I have witnessed several houses being burned and seen many of the inhabitants beaten," Nuristani says. "Until the government intervenes, we don't have the resources [to fight back]. We can't do it alone."

It's not clear where the militants are from. Nuristani says they are members of the Pakistani Taliban, who control the Pakistani side of the border alongside Al-Qaeda operatives and fighters from the Hizb-e Islami group headed by notorious former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Calling For Help

Aziz Rahman, a village elder in Kamdesh, describes the militants as armed and wearing black clothing. He says the militants have set up a shadow government, opening local offices and collecting taxes from local residents.

"Kamdesh is under the control of the Taliban. The men in black clothing are here. They have opened a Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice," Rahman says. "They are teaching religious material and are telling people to do the right things. If people violate the rules, then they get punished."

A Pakistani Taliban commander talks with journalists in the Bajaur tribal region, where the militants have a strong presence.A Pakistani Taliban commander talks with journalists in the Bajaur tribal region, where the militants have a strong presence.
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A Pakistani Taliban commander talks with journalists in the Bajaur tribal region, where the militants have a strong presence.
A Pakistani Taliban commander talks with journalists in the Bajaur tribal region, where the militants have a strong presence.
Rahman says the new rules include a decree that states that all men must grow long beards and refrain from smoking tobacco. He says dozens of militants are roaming the streets in SUVs and searching locals at mosques and bazaars to ensure the new rules are being followed.

Villagers receive lashes and beatings if they violate the rules, he adds.

Mawlawi Ahmadullah Moahad, a member of parliament from Nuristan, issued a warning to the government on the deteriorating situation in Nuristan when he addressed parliament on March 24.

Moahad told parliament that the militants had crossed the border from Pakistan and had evicted hundreds of villagers from their homes and replaced them with families from the Pakistani town of Chitral, which is across the border in the Bajaur tribal agency.

Moahad said the government had so far ignored his pleas for military intervention in Nuristan and he has accused the NATO-led coalition force of failing to act.

Locals who have fled Nuristan to neighboring provinces tell RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that many people have died at the hands of the militants.

With few roads and communication networks in Nuristan, the reported deaths could not be independently confirmed.

U.S. Forces Pull Out

The recent incident in Kamdesh and Bargmatal districts is the first major confrontation since October 2009, when U.S. forces withdrew from the area after several deadly attacks that left 17 soldiers dead.

In July 2008, nine NATO soldiers were killed after some 200 heavily armed insurgents using machine guns and rocket propelled grenades attacked several Afghan military posts from their bases in Chitral.

A U.S. Army humvee patrols in Nuristan Province in April 2009, after coalition forces pulled back from outlying bases there.A U.S. Army humvee patrols in Nuristan Province in April 2009, after coalition forces pulled back from outlying bases there.
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A U.S. Army humvee patrols in Nuristan Province in April 2009, after coalition forces pulled back from outlying bases there.
A U.S. Army humvee patrols in Nuristan Province in April 2009, after coalition forces pulled back from outlying bases there.
Only a few months later, in October 2009*, some 300 insurgents raided Camp Keating, the main NATO military base in Nuristan. Referred to as the Battle of Kamdesh, the base was nearly overrun, with more than 100 militants, eight U.S. soldiers, and seven Afghan soldiers being killed in the ensuing fighting.

Four days later, U.S. forces withdrew from all four of their bases in Nuristan, as part of a plan by General Stanley McChrystal to pull forces out of small outposts and relocate them closer to urban centers.

The cross-border attacks fuelled tensions between neighbors Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose governments accused each another of failing to deal with the militants. Afghanistan also accused Pakistan of launching hundreds of rockets into its territory.

Long Oppressed People

Nuristan, a remote and mountainous region, has a long history of violence.

Nuristanis, who many historians claim are descendants of an ancient Greek community who settled in the region after the conquest of the area by Alexander the Great, have long been persecuted by various Afghan leaders.

With their pagan religion and own ancient language, the small community was repeatedly targeted by successive Afghan kings who ransacked Nuristan and forced the inhabitants of the region, formally known as Kafiristan, or land of nonbelievers, to convert to Islam.

The name of the area was subsequently changed to Nuristan, which means land of the enlightened.

The arrival of religious extremism in Afghanistan has added to the plight of the Nuristanis, many of whom face a growing battle to save their language and their traditional ways of life.

* This article has been changed to correct the date of the Battle of Kamdesh to October 2009. We regret the error.

Written by Frud Bezhan, based on reporting by Rohullah Anwari in Konar

Frud Bezhan

Frud Bezhan covers Afghanistan and the broader South Asia and Middle East region. Send story tips to bezhanf@rferl.org. 

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Comments
     
by: Vanessa Adelson from: USA
March 29, 2012 23:59
Please get your facts straight. COP Keating was attacked in October 2009, not 2008. I should know. My son was killed during that attack. 300 Taliban attacked our small COP of about 50 soldiers. NOT ONE person from the village of Kamdesh let our COP know about the imminent attack. Some ANA were killed that day. Others turned their guns and attacked our soldiers. Others ran and hid. Let them ROT! Oh yeah, America....Pakistan is not a nation that should be considered our friend. Where do you think the Taliban came from that attacked my son and his buddies. Let's just get the hell out of that country.
In Response

by: Dave from: Ft drum
March 30, 2012 16:52
Justice served. Keating was attacked repeatedly during 2008 as well and the first indicator of an attack was always the locals not showing up for work. No warnings. Screw em. My CO, Capt Yellescas died there in october 2008, a week after telling the local shura that America would abandon them to the Taliban if they didn't start helping.
In Response

by: Vanessa Adelson from: USA
March 30, 2012 21:04
Thank you for your service Dave. I am well aware of Capt. Yellescas. My son, Spc. Stephan L. Mace, died at Yellescas at FOB Bostick. His injuries most likely would have been survivable but because of the location of Keating, helicopters couldn't land to get him out. It took them about 14 hrs. to extract Stephan. He later died at Yellescas while being operated on.

by: Cynthia Woodard from: Pa
March 30, 2012 00:23
The Battle of Kemdash was Oct 03, 09, not 08. My son was one of the 8 that were killed that day. Those people didn't warn the soldiers that they were going to be attacked by 300+ insurgens. NOW they cry for our help. I say NO NO NO.
In Response

by: Matt
April 07, 2012 03:15
What makes you think the people of Nuristan are crying for your/our help?

by: Knighthawk from: USA
March 30, 2012 00:44
All due respect - tough doo-doo. Too little too late we're out of there soon and these people are screwed by their own failures to act when they had a chance, and their not the only area with the same story. The time for such calls were years ago but most of these villagers didn't want to risk being involved then, or in many cases they did far worse by aiding the enemy (the very same people they are now complaining about) when US\NATO et all actually did try to secure their areas but this same population wouldn't lift much of a finger to help themselves.

The fact they are crying foul now is pretty rich, but typical of the general afghan mentality.




by: Rose
March 30, 2012 03:02
if you are going to publish a story you may want to reread it first, the Battle of Kamdesh took place October 3, 2009!!! Many amazing soldiers and their families lost a lot that day!!!

by: ashoka kanishka from: Hind
March 30, 2012 04:19
When the light is already spread how much more light is needed in Nuristan.

May be there is scientific thinking what chromatic light has fallen upon , and measures needed to convert the shades according to one choice.

Does the name Kamdesh symbolize ancient Kamboj Province.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 30, 2012 11:13
Well, you see, intercepting militants is not like burning Korans or killing innocent civilians - if in the two latter activities the gringos are real specialists, when it comes to combatting someone they consider their enemy - it's just completely out of their hands.

by: Ivan from: California
March 30, 2012 16:04
They don't need help from NATO, they have the Koran. If the Taliban kills them they will be martyrs. NATO, don't help them, once you run the Taliban out of Nuristan the same people begging for help will turn their guns on you. And when you leave, the Taliban will return. It is a no win situation.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
April 10, 2012 19:20
The ultimate organized crime syndicate, the taliban, have been fighting NATO/US troops for 10 years with the outright support of the Afghan people. We'll all be gone soon, and you can roll over and play dead just like you did before, and the criminals will rule over you like they did before. But this time no one is coming to your rescue. You'll just have to suck it up and bear it. After they have banned music, dancing, female education, and God knows what other crazy rules, you'll wish someone was there to try to give you another taste of freedom from the islamo-fascist tyrrany.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
April 11, 2012 02:04
says who? the same American rednecks who were full of enthusiasm to bomb and kill Christians in Kosovo and Bosnia and support Muslim "friends" there! Now once your Muslim friends and allies kicked your butt so hard it even hurts your grandmother, you are so _desperate_ to get out of the place which you have joyfully gone to headlong just few years back, led by your favorite fuhrer, George W. Bush. Eat it dear American compatriots. You deserved it 100%. Evil is being punished. Vote for the next republican fuhrer and you will get more of it.

by: Tony Frame
April 18, 2012 11:24
Friends, Richard Strand has documented the Nuristan Province nicely. He's translated the name as "Land of Light."

http://nuristan.info/Nuristani/Nuristanis1.html

I came to your page to learn more about the Pakistan insurgents into the area. Thanks, T
In Response

by: Tony Frame
April 18, 2012 14:44
Moderator, (I can hear my former English teacher yelling) please correct to:

Friends, Richard Strand has documented the Nuristan Province; he's translated the name as "Land of Light."

http://nuristan.info/Nuristani/Nuristanis1.html

I came to your page to learn more about the Pakistan insurgents in the area. Thanks, T

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