Hundreds of Afghan army forces are currently stationed in Hesa-e-Awal Behsud district on a ‘harsh revenge’ mission to crackdown Abdul Ghani Alipoor, a local militia commander. The forces dispatched to Behsud are equipped with heavy and light weapons, inter-alia with nearly a hundred armored Humvees. The move to arrest or kill a local anti-Taliban commander is unprecedented. When the military forces arrived in the district, Alipoor and his militiamen had left the area, according to some local sources.
The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pledged to take revenge after the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that militiamen loyal to Alipoor shot down an army helicopter in Behsud, killing four crew members and five commandos.
In an interview with online media, Alipoor also acknowledged that the helicopter was shot down while government forces and his militiamen were locked in a fight. Later, video footage, apparently taken by another aircraft from above, leaked by TOLONews, suggested that the helicopter was shot down by “laser-guided weapon.” In a second interview, Alipoor denied having a laser-guided missile. He added that the video suggests the helicopter was hit from above, not by his militiamen.
“This crime is not forgivable and will not remain unanswered,” President Ghani said while expressing condolences with the families of the slain forces. Top Afghan security officials also pledged that the security forces will avenge the blood of the slain forces who died in the helicopter incident. Sami Sadat, commander of the 215 Military Corpse, said that they will kill Alipoor’s supporters “proudly” like “mad dogs” in Behsud, Kabul, and other parts of the country.
An ethnic Hazara, Abdul Ghani Alipoor, was a van driver, who began to command a local armed group against Kochi and Taliban attacks in Hazara-populated districts of Maidan Wardak.
In late November 2018, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested Alipoor in Kabul. Soon after his arrest was leaked to the media, hundreds of his supporters took to the streets in the capital Kabul, demanding his immediate release. Under the pressure, the government released Alipoor after taking a written commitment from him.
In late January 2021, eleven civilians were killed and 31 others were wounded after police forces, commanded by Allahdad Fedaee, the then Maidan Wardak police chief, opened fire at a peaceful protest in Hesa-e-Awal Behsud.
Though Alipoor calls himself a pro-government militia, government officials have repeatedly labeled him as a rebellion commander.
The National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, who was speaking at a conference, asserted that there is no difference between the Taliban and Alipoor. “We take no one as an exception. The defense and security forces have been trained to suppress these people.”
The government did not fulfill a commitment
A confrontation between the local militia and the government got severe after security forces commanded by former Police Chief of Maidan Wardak Province Allahdad Fedaee opened fire on a peaceful protest of the locals in the district late in January. As many as 11 civilians were killed and 31 others wounded as the result of fire opened by security forces. The security forces were dispatched to the district to introduce a new district police chief and return but they stayed there even with the introduction ceremony was over– soothing that provoked suspicion among the locals of having a plan to launch an operation against Alipoor’s militia. The locals, then, held a protest rally in front of the district governor’s office and called on the government forces to leave the area but they were responded to by gunfire, temporary arrests, and physical beatings.
The dispute turned into a hot provocative debate after Fedaee labeled the dead and wounded victims as armed men loyal to Alipoor. Locals in Behsud said there were not any armed men among the protesters when the government forces opened fire at them.
Subsequently, the government sent a fact-finding delegation to the district. The delegation found that none of the protesters were armed when they were shot dead or wounded by security forces under the command of Fedaee. As a result, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) issued a statement on February 08, stating that Fedaee was suspended from his post as police chief of Maidan Wardak, and his case was handed over to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).
The AGO, however, repeatedly told Kabul Now that it had not received any case regarding Fedaee.
Contrary to evidence-based findings by the government-led delegation, President Ghani appointed Fedaee as police chief of Logar province on March 16. When asked about Fedaee’s case in the Behsud killing, the deputy interior minister Abdul Saboor Qaneh said that he was found innocent and three other security forces were found culprits whose cases are referred to the AGO.
The MoD claimed that 12 militiamen affiliated with Alipoor were killed and six others wounded in retaliatory operations in Behsud district. Alipoor and some local officials, however, said that the government forces conducted airstrikes that killed one woman and wounded her husband in Behsud.
On March 20, Afghan forces conducted airstrikes to target the military base of Alipoor but it killed a woman and wounded her husband, according to Hussain Ali Baligh, a member of Maidan Wardak Provincial Council. He called on security forces to be careful and avoid civilian causality.
The latest armed confrontation between Alipoor militiamen and government forces divided the nation into two, with a group expressing support for the government while Alipoor’s supporters criticized the government, accusing it of double standard and discriminating against the Hazaras who are exposed to Kochi and Taliban attacks. Some pro-government journalists accused Alipoor of having ties with the Fatemiyoun division in Afghanistan, an accusation Alipoor has repeatedly denied.
Latif Pedram, a former MP and a widely known Tajik politician questioned the aerial patrol of the army helicopters in Behsud. “Where were these helicopters and army soldiers to help the locals in Behsud when they became under attack by the armed Kochis?” Pedram said in a Facebook post.
Assadullah Saadati, Deputy Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, described troop’s deployment to Behsud as a “misuse” of the police and army forces. He called on the NATO and United States to prevent misuse of the security forces. “There has been military expedition against Hazaras twice in Behsud and Herat and as a result, tens of civilians were martyred and wounded. This is the third time that [they] want to shed the people’s blood in Behsud under the pretext of Alipoor.”