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Residents of Kunduz in Afghanistan Fear another Attack from Taliban Terrorist Group

Afghan government and its NATO allies seem confident the Taliban would not be able to run over Kunduz, but that has done little to reassure the population

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People live in fear in Afghanistan due to Militant attacks. VOA
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A bulldozer was busy clearing up the burnt remains of a shop destroyed during more than a week of fighting. Nearby, a man sold vegetables on a cart amidst heaps of charred bricks. Almost two weeks after the Afghan government, with NATO support, managed to fend off a Taliban attempt in early October to take over Kunduz city, residents were trying to get their lives back together.

Even though the Taliban failed to take over the city the way it did for a few days in 2015, the fighting, and the subsequent looting, destroyed many businesses. Residents complained of the high costs that war had imposed on them.

“A loaf of bread has shot up from five to 30 Afghanis. One liter of gas has gone up 50 to 80, so gas is now 300 Afghanis,” Shafiqullah, a resident of Kunduz, protested.

In the city square, a traffic policeman blew his whistle to direct the unruly traffic as bicycles weaved their way in and out of rows of cars and rickshaws; three-wheeled taxis popular in the region.

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Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces sit on the back of a police pickup in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016.
Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces sit on the back of a police pickup in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA news.

The main bazaar was full of pedestrians. Carts selling roasted corn or other snacks blocked the footpaths. Smoke, along with the appetizing whiff of roast meat, rose from a shop selling kebabs, a staple Afghan dish.

A casual glance on the streets gave an impression that things were usual, but locals said they continued to live under a cloud of fear and uncertainty. Few seemed to have confidence in the government’s ability to protect them against the Taliban.

“They can come anytime they want,” said Mohammad Idrees, speaking in local Dari language. “All entrances to the city are open. My house is in danger at night. No one is here to stop them. There is no police, nobody to stop them entering the city.”

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Afghan security forces keep watch in front of their armored vehicle in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016.
Afghan security forces keep watch in front of their armored vehicle in Kunduz city, Afghanistan, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA news.

His concerns seemed legitimate. It looked like most of the security – the Humvees, the tanks, the trucks, the personnel – were concentrated in the city center, with little presence towards the outskirts.

The road that the VOA team took from nearby Baghlan province to Kunduz last Friday afternoon also seemed to have little security presence. Convoys of destroyed trucks and trailers every few kilometers provided evidence of Taliban attacks, but most of the police checkposts, several of them half destroyed from past fighting, were vacant.

Taliban militants are known to randomly set up illegal checkpoints on that and other roads leading to Kunduz, especially early mornings and after dark, to stop traffic going into or coming out of the city.

It seemed easy for them to do so. The districts surrounding Kunduz city still have heavy Taliban presence with areas considered sympathetic to it. An illegal checkpoint could mean something as simple as a couple of Taliban members walking or driving up to the road on their motorbikes from a nearby village and waving their AK-47s to stop traffic.

Afghan government and its NATO allies seem confident the Taliban would not be able to run over Kunduz, but that has done little to reassure the population.

“People’s shops are destroyed, businesses have shut down, people are living in fear,” said Musa Jan describing life in Kunduz. “People think there will be more attacks and the city will collapse again.” (VOA).

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The Son Of The Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi Dies: IS

Al-Baghdadi's fate is still unknown

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This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son.
This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son. VOA

The son of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died in a suicide attack mission in the city of Homs in western Syria, according to the IS media al-Nashir News.

Posting the photograph of a young boy, purportedly Hudhayfah al-Badri, al-Baghdadi’s son, the outlet said he lost his life in an operation against the Russian forces deployed in Homs and the Syrian government forces, referred to as Nusayriyyah by IS.

“Hudhayfah al-Badri (may Allah accept him), the son of the Caliph (may Allah safeguard him), was killed in an inghimasi [suicide] operation against the Nusayriyyah and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs Willayah,” the news outlet reported.

Inghimasi refers to suicide operations in which a fighter, clad with explosive belt and armed with regular weapons, attacks an enemy position before detonating himself to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible.

The U.S. military said it has seen the reports of al-Badri’s death but declined any confirmation.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on an attack on forces outside the Coalition. We have nothing more to provide,” U.S. Central Command told VOA.

An Iraqi national, al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, announced the Islamic State caliphate in the city of Mosul in June 2014 and made himself its caliph. The leader has since become the world’s most wanted man, with a $25 million bounty on his head.

Islamic Terrorism in NYC
Bicycles and debris lay on a bike path after a motorist drove onto the path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. VOA

Al-Baghdadi’s fate is still unknown, with various reports claiming his death and injury several times, including a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry that he might have been hit by a Russian airstrike in 2017.

Those claims have been rejected by U.S. officials and the whereabouts of the elusive leader remain unknown.

Al-Baghdadi’s infamous role in IS has put a spotlight on his family. In March 2014, al-Baghdadi’s wife, Sujidah al-Dulaimi, was released, along with her two sons and daughter, in exchange for 13 nuns taken captive by al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front militants.

Also read: Will the Latest Message From Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Provoke New Attacks in the West?

It was reported that only the girl was al-Baghdadi’s daughter. The two boys belonged to a man his wife had married before meeting al-Baghdadi. (IANS)