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In the north of Afghanistan, the Taliban are spreading again. Thousands flee from them, others join the Islamists – because they hope for their victory.

Afghanistan: Where the Taliban get the villages back

In the north of Afghanistan, the Taliban are spreading again. Thousands flee from them, others join the Islamists – because they hope for their victory.

Afghanistan: Where the Taliban get the villages back
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  • Page 1 — where Taliban get villages back
  • Page 2 — "The Peacemakers have failed"
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    When Jaheed Frotan runs 44 kilometers from Faizabad to Baharak, past brown fields, leafless fruit trees and rugged mountains, it often points to left or right. "Do you see snow and first houses of this valley? There's Taliban, "he says.

    Shortly reafter, a checkpoint comes in sight behind piles of sandbags, sifting through bullet holes. "They try to conquer this checkpoint constantly, again and again our soldiers are wounded or killed here," says Frotan. Good 20 minutes later he pulls a line with his hand and says: "Until this time, Taliban have managed to take over Baharak city in short term. This road here was littered with corpses. "

    Frotan works in norast Afghan province of Badakhshan Chan, serving many inland refugees here on behalf of Government in Kabul. The camps directly in provincial capital Faizabad and also in adjacent district of Baharak have become larger and more numerous since security situation in Afghanistan worsened.

    Since end of 2015, Islamists have expanded territory, which y control completely or predominantly, by a quarter. In total, according to US figures today 3.7 of 33 million Afghans under regime of warriors of God. Anor nine million live in areas where government and Taliban are weighing. And also here in Badakhshan Chan, only province that was never under Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001, y were able to grasp: two districts complete control, a third to 80 percent. In anor five districts, y hold dozens of villages.

    Frotan observes Islamists only from afar. The thousands of displaced families he cares about can tell from ir own experience how Taliban have rebuilt ir presence in Afghanistan in recent years, and how brutally y rule.

    The army fought, but she did not remain

    Mohammad Abdul is one of war displaced in Faizabad. For years he has been following strength of Islamists in his native region of Yaftal-e Balaa. First re were ten, twenty fighters who knocked at gates of villagers in evening and asked m to cook m. What y drove during day did not know people. But re were more and more, sometime several hundred, who n fought for months with Afghan army around villages in Yaftal-e Balaa. On day military regained and conquered territories, but it did not remain to hold m. Scarcely was it dark, Taliban occupied m again.

    Today y open, entertain courts and prisons, drive taxes. Extremists from abroad also admit it, says Abdul, but in villages of his homeland, only locals have become Taliban. The mid-forties are not surprising: "Some parents in our village have sent ir children to Pakistan," he says. There y were trained to mullahs and practically armed: "They n came back with gun over shoulder and told us that we were infidels."

    Many would have joined Taliban to make money – for example, in mines that are illegally operated by Islamists. Or, especially young, educated men with master letters or bachelor's degrees, were moved to side of Taliban, because after 15 years of school and university education y could not find work and invective y were exposed to in village , no longer held out.

    Also Abdul Hakim had to flee from his home village of Dehboland, his own relatives had denounced him to Taliban, he says: "Without support of population, y would not be far away." Hakim shakes his head for a long time. Some in village are convinced that Islamists will take over whole country again, first Faizabad, where Bundeswehr was still in use years ago, n Khanabad and Kunduz, finally rest: "They are hitting ir side to get power too," says Hakim.

    Riddled with checkpoints

    If refugee advisor Frotan is now driving 44 kilometers into district capital Baharak, he has to brake quite often. Not because of potholes, road has now been expanded and paved continuously thanks to international assistance. Rar, because way today is riddled with checkpoints to ensure road and show flag. Every five kilometers an artificial ground wave that allows policemen or soldiers left and right to prevent mselves and to take a look inside car.

    Of course, Frotan never has to stop: a large sign behind windshield allows security forces to recognize from afar that it works for government. But more he approaches Baharak, more often Frotans young driver hides sign with a quick handle under sun visor between checkpoints.

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