Growing presence of illegal gunmen worries Mazar residents

The residents of Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, say they are facing a number of problems due to the growing activities of illegal armed groups.

Zarmina, a resident of 3rd police district of Mazar-i-Sharif, said the movement of unidentified gunmen in the city had become a major headache for local people.

She said the movement during day time and firing into the air at night from the illegal armed groups had made their life terrible.

According to Zarmina, activities of irresponsible individuals have become a huge social problem and it has worried people.

“Some of these individuals even can be seen in private dresses while carrying rifles, we wonder why security forces do not prevent them,” she said.

Hasmatullah, a resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, is also concerned, saying if the situation continues like this, the crime rate in the city would rise.

He told Pajhwok that illegal armed men used their vehicles with tinted windows and harass people.

He added people were hoping that the situation in Mazar-i-Sharif would improve with implementation of the security charter program but on the contrary the situation worsened.

Hashmatullah said: “Officials in Balkh say they would take promise from the powerful individuals not to do anything illegal. In my opinion, this is a useless act.”

He added the government should collect weapons and enforce the law instead of taking pledges from the powerful individuals.

Atta Mohammad Sahu, a civil society activist in Balkh, said the increasing number of illegal armed men in Mazar-i-Sharif was directly linked to the ongoing fighting in Balkh districts.

He added the security situation in 14 districts of Balkh had deteriorated in the past one year.

He said some areas in insecure districts had fallen into the hands of Taliban, which led to the arrival of public uprising members and police in Mazar.

Sahu said these people moved around the city with weapons and had created many problems for people.

“Local police and uprising forces from many district have come to the city, they have set up bases in different parts of the city and wear local clothes and carry weapons,” he added.

AfzalHadid, the provincial council chairman, hoped the government would prevent activities of armed men with implementation of Security Charter Program.

He added the government must disarm all irresponsible gunmen. Hadid said: “I urge officials of Balkh to implement the security charter program on everyone, the law should be applied equally to all. The situation in the city is bad and the Balkh local government should try to create a safe environment for peace.”

The PC head said local officials in Balkh were working hard to prevent illegal activities.

Governor Mohammad FarhadAzimi also said that with the implementation of the Security Charter Program, the situation would get better.

He said he had begun taking written assurances from unauthorized commanders who had previously been involved in criminal activities and illegal activities in Mazar-i-Sharif.

According to Azimi, if anyone does not keep their promises and again engage in illegal activities, the person will be brought to justice.

Police chief SayedMerajuddin Sadat also said they had taken seriously measures to curb illegal and criminal activities in Mazar.

He told Pajhwok he had set up special groups in all security districts of the city in collaboration with local representatives to help police in curbing illegal activities in a timely manner.