(Kabul) Civilians have left the Panchir Valley in Afghanistan in large numbers in recent days, fleeing the fighting between the Taliban and the main armed opposition group, the National Resistance Front (FNR), we learned Saturday with residents.
The FNR, led by Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, announced on May 7 that it had launched a major offensive against the Taliban in several provinces in the north of the country, including that of Panchir, 80 km north of Kabul. .
Clashes have since pitted the FNR and the Taliban, who each claimed to have caused dozens of deaths in the opposing ranks, a record impossible to confirm from an independent source in this difficult-to-reach valley.
“We were only able to take one or two clothes with us,” Lutfullah Bari, who left his home in Hesa-e-Duwum district with 15 family members, told AFP. win Kabul.
According to him, several dozen families have thus fled Panchir to find refuge in recent days in the capital.
“Everyone left the area out of fear,” said Farid Ahmad, who fled Rukha district with his family to take refuge in Kabul.
“People are fleeing combat zones. They are afraid and flee to save their lives,” confirmed Aimal Rahimi, another resident of the same district.
Abdul Hamid Khurasani, the local head of the Badri unit, the Taliban special forces, however told AFP that the clashes had ceased, the FNR fighters having according to him retreated towards the neighboring provinces of Badakhshan and Baghlan.
The situation in Panchir is now “normal and peaceful”, he said.
This is the FNR’s first offensive since the fall of its Panchir bastion. The group, which presents itself as the last democratic bulwark inside Afghanistan, could not prevent the Taliban, who came to power in mid-August, from seizing it in September.
The valley was made famous in the late 1980s by Ahmad Shah Massoud, before he was assassinated by al-Qaeda in 2001.
The Panchir fell neither under Soviet occupation in the 1980s nor during the Taliban’s rise to power a decade later and their first regime (1996-2001).