Panjshir fighters in Afghanistan vowed to fight the Taliban until the last man, but almost two weeks after the hard-line Islamists celebrated their victory, part of the steep valley was emptied and abandoned.
In many villages, only old people and livestock remain.
Sitting under the shade of a closed store, Abdul Ga’Hoor envisions his deserted village beside a rocky hill in the Kenji district.
“Previously, nearly 100 families lived here,” he said. “Currently, there are only three left. Everyone is gone.”
He said most had fled south to the capital Kabul before the Taliban wiped out last month.
Further up the valley of Maraspa, along the green belt along the river, villagers once gathered to share gossip and news.
Currently, only donkeys and Khol Mohammad (who are limping at age 67) remain in Maraspa, with a few others nearby.
“A few families remained, but about 80 other families were all gone,” he said.
This is also the case with the village after AFP visited the village and traveled to the three most devastated districts of the state’s seven districts.
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“No one is left”
Some shops and food stalls, mostly bakeries, are still open, but the market (usually crowded with traders and customers) is almost empty.
“No one remains, except for the elders and the poor who can’t afford to leave,” said Abdul Wazid, 30, who stayed behind to watch over his family’s home.
Only the heavily armed Taliban militants, who currently claim most of the mountain valley, are busy.
A Taliban fighter stands next to ammunition along the road in the Maraspa district of Bazaar, Panjshir (AFP photo).
They either defend the obstacles of pickup trucks seized as war plunder during the rout of government lightning bolts or patrol dusty roads.
Panjshir fighters gained a legendary reputation for resistance, first defending the mountain homes from the Soviet army for ten years, then through the civil war, and from the last Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001.
Surrounded by jagged snow-capped mountains, the 115-kilometer-long (70-mile-long) valley provides defenders with a natural military advantage.
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But the Taliban were bolded by their drastic victories across the country. There, they got a huge amount of weapons and military kits that the now-deceased United States provided to the defeated Afghan army.
Humvee burnt down along a road in Dastak, Panjshir, Afghanistan (AFP photo)
Several Panjshir leaders, including Ahmad Shah Massoud, the son of the late veteran fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, have vowed to never surrender to the Taliban.
They fought some battles with evidence of resistance to the twisted burnt debris of the Taliban’s armored vehicles and pickups.
However, the Taliban outperformed the Panjshir fighters and were far better equipped, so they shrugged their losses to power up the valley.
Earlier this month, the Taliban declared victory and raised their white flag.
It is unclear what the rest of the resistance is and whether its leader is still in the country.
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Residents say the Taliban’s arrival was cruel.
“They shot dead their father, who was looking for food for the car driver and children,” the elder said he saw the body near the village of Kenji.
Other Panjshiris said they counted 19 civilian killings between the villages of Khenj and Bazarak, apart from those killed in gun battles with opposition forces.
In this conservative valley, many say the presence of Taliban soldiers is seen as disturbing and unwelcome.
“How do you expect us to leave our family here when the Taliban are on the edge of the garden?” Said Haji Mohammad Yunus, 75, of the almost deserted village of Omerz. ..
“People no longer feel free and prefer to go to Kabul.”
Residents say the Taliban have set up obstacles to prevent people from leaving, and Muslims are reportedly asking people to bring their families home.
“We tell people that they can return to their homes and they won’t bother,” said Taliban commander at Kenji Market.
Still, AFP saw a truck loaded with mattresses and furniture turning back after trying to leave the Panjshir.
One elder said the Taliban wanted people to stay to protect them from attacks.
“The Taliban have a human shield and prefer the villagers to remain in order to avoid being attacked by resistance,” he said.
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“No one left”: Panjshir in Afghanistan is now a ghost town and old man’s territory
Source link “No one left”: Panjshir in Afghanistan is now a ghost town and old man’s territory