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PAN, May 9, 2012

Call to rein in Kunduz militias

By Waheedullah

Hundreds of residents including tribal elders, influential and Ulama, urge the government to stop militiamen from harassing people in northern Kunduz province.

The militia is a voluntary armed tribal force created by locals to ensure security for their communities. However, they are presently deployed as an armed force but with no official rank in the government.

They are equipped and supported by the government and US forces to fight the rebels.

In the past, some of these groups mushroomed into private armies and turned against their own bosses and in-fighting took place for territorial control.

Speaking at a public gathering, Noor Mohammad, a tribal elder in the Kunam area in Kunduz City, the provincial capital, said illegal gunmen calling themselves militia killed his two brothers a week ago, but so far the killers are wandering freely in the area.

Local tribal leaders in Kunduz
Local tribal leaders in Kunduz. (Photo: PAN)

He told Pajhwok Afghan News that the militiamen opened fire at his brothers and a prayer leader during a funeral ceremony.

He added they had no private enmity with anyone but recently a militia commander was killed by unidentified people and the militia gang was seeking revenge on innocent people.

While criticising the government he said: “Several times I have complaint to the security forces, but they ignored the issue.”

However, Syed Hussain Sarwari, the provincial police spokesman, said the victims were assassinated by illegal gunmen, who managed to escape after the killings, and security personnel are trying to track them down.

Haji Sher Ali, another tribal elder from Dasht-i-Archi district, said the tribal armed forces were persecuting ordinary people in their areas.

He added these men terrorized their area and forcefully demand Usher (one tenth) yields or money for the crops, and even seized villagers’ mobile phones and motorcycles.

Asadullah Omarkhel, head of the provincial Peace Council, said the militia were threatening security and opposing the reintegration efforts in the province as well.

“The militias’ gross behavior with those who have joined the peace process and shunned violence, as well as assassinating them, is a main hindrance to the reintegration of insurgents with the government,” he said.

He urged the government to quickly stop these individuals from harming civilians using illegal weapons.

However, Sarwari said no militia existed in the province and said a newly established special security force, jointly set up by the Afghan forces and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), had been operating in Kunduz.

He said all members of the force had produced guarantees of good conduct from area elders, religious scholars and local security officials.

Although the security force’s employees have no uniform, they carry special badges to identify themselves, he said.

Initially, residents could not differentiate between the force and tribal militiamen.

If any member of the force was found disrupting peace and security, he would be detained and prosecuted for their misbehavior, he concluded.

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