A local official in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province says civilians are rising up to confront Islamic State militants, but reports from the area Saturday indicate such action has not yet begun.
Nangarhar Province is an area where Islamic State extremists have recently expanded their activities despite Afghan security forces' intense efforts to contain them.
Tribal elder Malik Niyaz told VOA that representatives of local tribes met Saturday to ask the government to increase its efforts to remove the threat they face from Islamic State fighters. Once the government "cleans up" the area, he said, local tribal leaders are ready to guard against future infiltration by the militants.
The governor of Achin district in the province is reported to have claimed earlier that hundreds of civilians have joined security forces, and together they have made gains against the Islamist extremists. Other local officials disputed that account, however, or said the governor may have been referring confidently to a future confrontation with IS forces.
Ayesha Tanzeem, VOA's bureau chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan, recently visited Achin district, which she says marks an unofficial boundary between areas controlled by Islamic State and the Afghan government.
The valleys beyond Achin have become a safe haven for IS fighters, our correspondent reported. The militants have killed civilians in that area who refused to join them, she added, and local residents say thousands of people have fled their homes in terror.
Afghanistan national army officers serving in Achin say the area is now secure, after the government prevailed in a back-and-forth battle with IS over a key security checkpoint.
However, Tanzeem reports local people have become increasingly fearful about what may lie ahead.