Residents protest against insecurity and call for security officials to step down, Farah Province.
Residents protest against insecurity and call for security officials to step down, Farah Province.

WASHINGTON, AND FARAH (AFGHANISTAN) - Unrest caused by the Taliban has forced dozens of families in Afghanistan's western Farah province to flee to neighboring areas.

Internally-displaced families accuse the Taliban overrunning a number of Afghan security check posts and killing Afghan soldiers on a daily bases and say the province is on the verge of collapse.

“As the fighting continues many people including children got wounded,” said Noorullah, a local resident who has fled to western Herat province.

In Farah province, hundreds of people demonstrated in the streets last week and called for the firing of local and security officials.

Provincial council members accused police of shooting at protesters and wounding seven civilians on January 24. Afghan officials deny the allegation.

The unrest and the recent protests in Farah prompted provincial governor Mohammad Arif Shah Jahan to step down January 25. He said he quit to preserve "unity among the residents of the province.”

Government in action

To deal with the situation in Farah province, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called a security meeting on January 23, where he reviewed the situation in the province with top security officials.

The government appointed a new governor and a police chief to and additional reinforcements were also sent to the province.

The then-governor of western Farah province, in an interview with RFE/RL, said that the Taliban is trying hard to turn the province into a hub and a supply corridor in the southwestern part of the county. “They will not achieve this goal,” said Mohammad Arif Shah Jahan.

An Afghan security official in Farah said the Taliban advanced partly because there are  too few Afghan forces in the province to stop them.

General Maroof Folad, former Farah police chief claimed an estimated of 6,000 insurgents operate in the province.

The newly appointed governor to Farah province, retired Lt. General Abdul Basir Salangi, told VOA “With the recent arrival of reinforcement, I have a plan to coordinate a full-scale joint Afghan forces operation in the province to push the Taliban out of the province, and bring peace back.”

Farah Province Governor Basir Salangi.
Farah Province Governor Basir Salangi.

Who supports the Taliban?

Authorities in Farah province claim that Taliban militants are equipped with advanced Russian, Pakistani and Iranian weaponry.

“During the fighting [with Taliban] in addition to a recoilless rifle, we have confiscated a Russian made sniper rifle equipped with" advanced technology, said Shah Jahan, former provincial governor.

The concerns of the Taliban targeting Afghan security forces with sophisticated night-vision technology sniper rifles had been previously raised by Afghan officials.

Last year, the claims of Russia’s support to Taliban led to a NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels, where Russian officials denied any kind of support for Taliban.

Iran and Pakistan also deny supporting or arming the Taliban.

Khalil Noorzaie contributed to this report from Herat, Afghanistan.