Seurity forces clash with local militia in Afghanistan

Afghan security force

Kabul,  The Northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif was tense on Sunday as security forces clashed with a private militia affiliated with a rogue police commander resisting arrest.

Clashes erupted in Balkh, just outside Mazar-e-Sharif, around 11 p.m. on Saturday after security forces approached the residence of Nizamuddin Qaisiri with an arrest warrant, Efe news reported.

But the former police chief declined to surrender and instead launched an armed attack at officers that continued through the night into Sunday.

Local police have accused Qaisari, who has some 150 henchmen at his disposal, of destabilizing the city of Mazare-Sharif and of being involved in extortion and other misdemeanours.

“Security forces who were deployed to arrest Qaisari were faced armed resistance from Qaisari and his men, but security forces are committed to enforce the law and to arrest Qaisari and his men as soon as possible,” police said in a statement.

Both sides exchanged small arms fire in the battle around the residence and Qaisari’s men launched a rocket-propelled grenade toward the security forces. There are no confirmed reports of casualties as of yet.

Zabihullah Kakar, a council member of Balkh province, told Efe that his department had received several civilian complaints about Qaisari in recent months.

“Qaisari and his men are accused by citizens of grabbing land and shops, extortions, beatings and other types of illegal doings in the city,” the official said.

He added that residents in the area where the clashes were taking place had either left their houses in a panic or were trapped in the area.

Qaisari, an ethnic Uzbek and former ally of Abdul Rashid Dostum, the country’s vice president, is a notorious militia leader in the region.

He was detained in 2018 in the northern Faryab province. Many ethnic Uzbeks in the province objected to his detention and launched protests.