Afghan Shi’ite militia battles Taliban, elevating sectarian fears By EconomySquare
By Ismail Sameem
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Per week of preventing between Taliban militants and fighters loyal to a commander from the primarily Shi’ite Hazara minority has heightened fears of a harmful new part of sectarian violence in Afghanistan.
The clashes within the central province of Uruzgan, which have killed a minimum of 21 individuals, have highlighted issues that Hazaras, members of a primarily Shi’ite Persian-speaking minority focused by Islamic State assaults over current years, might take up arms in frustration at an absence of motion by the federal government.
Whereas the Taliban, made up primarily of ethnic Pashtun Sunni Muslims, has not explicitly focused Hazaras previously, officers concern the violence may escalate into an ethnic battle.
“The fighting is very intense and is now becoming an issue of ethnic violence between Hazara and Pashtun,” mentioned Amir Mohammad Barekzai, the provincial council chief. “The government must arrange a truce between them or there will be a massacre.”
Sectarian violence had till current years been comparatively unusual in Afghanistan however suicide bombings at Shi’ite mosques and cultural facilities by Islamic State in addition to assaults on Hazaras touring on provincial highways have fueled rising anger. Many Hazaras blame Sunni Pashtuns for the assaults.
Afghan and Western safety officers, fearing the sort of sectarian violence that has devastated Iraq, have been deeply involved that Hazaras who fought in Iranian-backed militias in Syria may hit Sunni targets.
TAX ROW SPARKS VIOLENCE
The current violence began when Taliban fighters attacked a distant cluster of Hazara villages in Uruzgan province after they refused to pay tax to the insurgents, provincial officers mentioned.
The Hazara commander, Abdul Hakim Shujaee, a former chief within the U.S.-funded Afghan Native Police, has been accused of significant human rights abuses and faces an arrest order from the central authorities, which has struggled to impose its authority on distant components of the nation.
He instructions tons of of Hazara fighters and stays free due to his connections with highly effective political figures in Kabul, native officers say.
Uruzgan, squeezed between the Taliban heartlands of Kandahar and Helmand and the Hazara-dominated province of Daikondi, is dwelling to each Pashtuns and Hazara households and the 2 teams have lengthy had an uneasy co-existence.
Asadullah Sayed, the governor of Uruzgan, mentioned preventing broke out between two armed teams in three villages of Khas Uruzgan district final week and authorities forces have been deployed to finish the battle.
He put the variety of useless at 21 however a authorities safety official mentioned 43 individuals had been killed up to now on either side, many extra wounded and a few 300 households have fled the world.
The Taliban usually accumulate taxes from native residents in areas beneath their management to fund their insurgency however Hazara households defied them, setting off a fierce gun battle, he mentioned.
The case echoes a standoff final month in central Ghor province involving a outstanding Hazara commander referred to as Alipur, referred to as “Commander Sword”, seen by supporters as a sort of Robin Hood determine however denounced by the federal government as a bandit.
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