Taliban stage massive house-to-house sweep in Kabul
KABUL: The Taliban are carrying out a massive security operation in Kabul and other Afghan cities, their spokesman said on Sunday, going door to door searching for weapons and criminals accused of a recent spate of thefts and kidnappings.
The operation, which began on Friday, has alarmed many who fear being targeted because of their association with the former Western-backed regime or the US-led foreign forces that eventually withdrew. August 31.
Some furious residents posted videos on social media showing homes they said had been ransacked during Taliban raids, but several people said AFP their encounters had been polite and superficial.
“There was only my nephew at home when they came and they made a big mess,” said a resident, who requested anonymity, showing AFP a series of photos revealing considerable disruption .
The Taliban called the sweep a “mopping up operation”.
“We are trying to take action against these kidnappers, thieves and looters who have guns in their hands and are threatening people’s lives,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference.
He said authorities discovered two kidnapping victims during the operation and also freed two teenage girls they found chained in a basement.
Mujahid said light and heavy weapons, explosives, radio equipment and drones were seized, along with military or government vehicles.
Six people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State group were arrested, he said, along with nine kidnappers and 53 “professional thieves”.
“We want to assure the people of Kabul that these operations are not directed against the people,” Mujahid said.
“The people of the city must be sure that the search is carried out with care.”
The Taliban have also stepped up street patrols in the capital and set up temporary roadblocks at key intersections, where they randomly search vehicles or check the identity of those inside.
Dozens of newly trained policewomen were involved in the search in case there were no men in the searched houses, Mujahid said.
Social media showed images and video clips of doors and cupboards smashed in, cushions and mattresses ripped open and belongings strewn across the floors.
“Intimidation, searches, arrests and violence against members of different ethnic groups and women are crimes and must stop immediately,” tweeted Andreas von Brandt, European Union Ambassador to Afghanistan.
“Despite Putin’s war, we are watching you,” he added, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has dominated news cycles in recent days.
“Concentrate on securing Europe against Putin,” replied Muhammad Jalal, a Taliban official with a strong presence on social media.
“Afghans know what they are doing.