Afghan officials have admitted that ISIS has developed a stronghold in a district that has been unattended by security forces for eight years.
And Khak-e-Afghan District, also known as Kakar District, while a rural area, isn’t exactly remote, though the terrain is notoriously difficult for security forces. It’s in Zabul Province, through which runs the highway connecting Kandahar and Kabul. Kandahar, a major air base for the Afghan National Security Forces and the International Security Assistance Force, is about 20 miles from the border of Zabul Province.
According to Afghan census statistics, Khak-e-Afghan is home to about 23,000 of the province’s 277,000 residents.
“Security sources added that in this time no military operation has ever been launched to retake the district and that Afghan forces have never battled Daesh in the area,” Afghanistan’s Tolo News reported. “The statement [from local officials] comes after officials in Kabul have maintained that military operations were carried out – specifically to rescue 31 passengers taken hostage by Daesh eight months ago.”
More from Tolo:
Residents in Khak-e-Afghan district say they are tired of Daesh in their area and many families have fled their homes in the past few days due to Daesh activity.
Residents claim Daesh militants commit all manner of brutality and suppression against them and that many of them have had their homes seized by Daesh militants.
A resident said: “They (Daesh) have seized homes by force and have said they bought the properties.”
Eight months have passed since Daesh started its activities in the district, there are some rumors that nearly 800 families associated with Daesh live in Khak-e-Afghan district, said officials.
Attaullah Haqparast, a member of the Zabul provincial council said: “Uzbek and Chechen along with Arab militants are fighting (in the area). They are supported by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI and receive resources through Pakistan.”
Zabul was the focus of a huge protest in Kabul on Wednesday as some 20,000 demonstrators carried the coffins of seven ethnic Hazaras, including three women and two children, who were abducted while traveling between Zabul and Ghazni provinces and beheaded by ISIS.
There were also protests in Zabul and other regions demanding an end to the crimes of ISIS, the Taliban, and other militant groups. Some were demanding that President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah step down if they could not stop the terrorism. Many displayed ethnic unity to face the terrorists, such as a Jalalbad protest where demonstrators chanted, “I’m a Hazara Pashtun.”
— Zafar Mehdi (@mehdizafar) November 11, 2015
— Ehsanullah Amiri (@euamiri) November 11, 2015
— Mustafa Ali Jamal (@MustafaAliJamal) November 11, 2015