Weekly brief covering Feb. 19 – Feb. 25

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A total of 96 political violence and security incidents were documented by Afghan Peace Watch (APW) during this past week, a bulk of which constituted armed clashes (18), assassinations (18), attacks on civilians (11), Taliban arrests (15), and demonstrations (6). The casualties from these incidents were 120, with 76 of them being civilians.


As last week saw the Taliban consolidating their military presence in Bamyan and Baghlan provinces, they deployed 1,500 troops from Paktia’s Mansouri 203rd Corps’ troops and drafted them in Bamyan. They also dispatched troops in droves to Baghlan province as they continued to wage more frequent attacks. They launched an air operation against NRF hideouts in Andarab district and deployed new forces to Khost district, setting off fierce clashes out later in flashpoint areas. At least two Taliban soldiers were killed in an ambush. Taliban also violently arrested and interrogated 36 civilians in Andarab. NRF attacked a checkpoint in Jabal al Siraj district in Parwan province and staged several attacks in Kapisa, killing at least seven Taliban soldiers. They also killed a top Taliban commander.


Several Taliban soldiers were also reportedly killed in a bomb attack on a Taliban convoy in Qalae Najara of Kabul, followed by a loud explosion and gunfire. In another shooting, the Taliban killed a doctor at a checkpoint as they continued to tighten security in the capital.


Panjshir province was a major flashpoint of conflict. Resistance militias ambushed Taliban checkpoints in the Dara district and killed four Taliban forces in another similar attack. Six Taliban members were killed and wounded after a roadside bomb exploded in Bazarak district. NRF also fought a fierce clash with the Taliban in Shotul district, killing the Taliban’s notorious Red Unit commander Maulvi Ezatullah. Those clashes left two NRF forces dead.


Taliban also fought a fierce battle with Pakistani forces along Durand Line in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar. At least five civilians were killed and 23 wounded in affected areas. Pakistani forces also launched artillery attacks on areas in Nuristan and Khost provinces.


Taliban continued arrests and onslaughts and targeted killings. Taliban killed a woman and wounded another woman after they tried to run over a three-wheeler rickshaw in Kandahar. In another instance, they barred journalists from providing coverage for a protest that followed, which later caused anger among journalists. A former government soldier was also killed by gunmen there. Taliban forces killed two brothers in Samangan for having past military affiliations, and their younger brother went to a coma due to PTSD. Taliban hung dead bodies of two alleged kidnappers in public view in Herat and killed a former government official after shooting at his car in Herat. Moreover, Taliban forces tortured a civilian after raiding his house in Mazar Sharif city, and beat a veteran journalist in Herat. Taliban were also seen giving lashes to a man and a woman in public view for adultery in Ghor province. They also publicly flogged a man accused of adultery in Uruzgan.


There were several shootings and mysterious murders involving unknown gunmen. At least seven vaccinators, including two women, were assassinated by armed assailants in Kunduz. Gunmen killed a civilian in Mazar Sharif, a businessman in Uruzgan and two civilians in Helmand, a civilian Badakhshan, and a former government prosecutor in Paktia.


Taliban began day and night patrols in Ghazni, and arrested a former police officer in that province. In another oppressive move, the Taliban banned all civil activities, including charities and voluntary organizations in Nangahar province.


In two new developments, a former Taliban governor of Kunar reportedly crossed Durand Line and formed a splinter group called Tehreek-e Allah Akbar in Pakistan. A new anti-Taliban movement under the name of ‘Afghanistan National Islamic Independent Movement’ emerged in the Khogyani district of Nangarhar, declaring an armed struggle against the Taliban.