‘We won’t sur­vive’: Res­i­dents speak of on­go­ing bat­tle in Ghazni

The Miracle - - National & Int -

As Afghan se­cu­rity forces backed by US air­power con­tinue to bat­tle Tal­iban fight

ers in the east­ern city of Ghazni, hun­dreds of civil­ians have been dis­placed with lit­tle means to sur­vive.

Fight­ing raged for a fifth-straight day on Tues­day fol­low­ing the brazen at­tack by the armed group that threat­ens the con­trol of the strate­gic city, about 150km south of the cap­i­tal, Kabul. While in­for­ma­tion has been scarce, an es­ti­mated 400 peo­ple have been killed so far, in­clud­ing about 150 civil­ians, ac­cord­ing the UN and the Afghan min­istry of de­fence. “When the fight­ing in­ten­si­fied, we knew we would die if we didn’t leave our home to travel to Kabul,” Ghazni res­i­dent Yas­san Yas­san, 21, told Al Jazeera, adding the Tal­iban had cut elec­tric­ity and wa­ter sup­plies across the city. Re­call­ing the vi­o­lence, Yas­san said: “I wit­nessed a rocket land­ing on a group of peo­ple at­tempt­ing to escape. All of them died.” She also said the Tal­iban set gov­ern­ment build­ings on fire and blocked sev­eral ar­eas in­clud­ing the Kabul-Kan­da­har high­way. “We had to pass through dan­ger­ous ar­eas to get to Kabul, we wit­nessed the worst clashes be­tween the Tal­iban and se­cu­rity forces,” said Yas­san. The UN’s Of­fice for Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs said be­tween 130 and 150 civil­ians have re­port­edly been killed,

but those fig­ures re­mained un­con­firmed. Sanela Ba­jram­ba­sic, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, told Al Jazeera from Geneva that the sit­u­a­tion de­te­ri­o­rated very fast. “It is a sad re­al­ity and it is leav­ing deep wounds on [Ghazni’s res­i­dents],” she said. “We have been fo­cused on help­ing the lo­cal hospi­tal. As of to­day, we are also try­ing to help col­lect bod­ies and to trans­port them back to their fam­i­lies.” Mo­ham­mad Rahim, a res­i­dent of Ghazni, fled the city along with his wife and three chil­dren when the Tal­iban man­aged to get on the roof of their house to po­si­tion them­selves for the bat­tle. “When we begged them to not harm us. They said ‘we can­not save you, it is up to you whether you want to leave or stay’. We had no op­tion but to leave,” he said “Now we are liv­ing at my rel­a­tives house in Kabul who are very poor, they can­not even feed us. I don’t know what to do.” Con­flict­ing state­ments about the fight­ing emerged on Tues­day with a Tal­iban spokesman say­ing the bat­tle was on­go­ing, and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials claim­ing oth­er­wise. “Afghan se­cu­rity forces have pushed back the Tal­iban from Ghazni city and the search op­er­a­tion is on­go­ing,” Nasir Ah­mad Faqiri, a pro­vin­cial coun­cil mem­ber, told Al Jazeera.“Our houses are de­stroyed and burned down, we can­not go back to Ghazni, we won’t sur­vive there,” Rahim said. The Tal­iban have not taken a ma­jor pro­vin­cial city since they over­ran the north­ern city of Kun­duz in 2015.

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