The ISIS and Taliban terrorists, in a joint operation, overran the strategic Mirza Olang region in Afghanistan’s Sar-e Pol province on August 5, 2017, triggering a massive human tragedy.
According to reports by Afghan local media, Taliban and ISIS terrorists, in a coordinated move on August 5, raided the Mirza Olang village, and savagely set fire to mosques and prayer sites, decapitated or shot dead some 50 villagers, including women and children, and took more than 150 families hostage.
“Over the past few years, terrorist elements launched numerous attacks to seize the strategic Mirza Olang area, but were defeated every time. Finally, ISIS and al-Qaeda mobilized their forces and military equipment, launching a joint operation from nearby areas to capture the village,” Afghanistan’s Khabarnama website quoted Sar-e Pol province authorities as saying.
After 48 hours of resistance by Afghan government troops, terrorists managed to get into the village and began to kill villagers mercilessly. Hundreds of locals were made homeless and fled to nearby towns and cities, according to a Farsi report by Mizan.
Terrorists Enslaved Young Girls
“In addition to mercilessly killing and butchering children, women and the elderly in Mirza Olang village, Taliban and ISIS terrorists took around 80 villagers, including more than 30 young girls and women, to an unknown location in the very early hours of the raid,” says another Afghan news agency.
“Terrorists separated women and men, and transferred them to Pesta Mazar first before taking them to another area; however, no one knows their whereabouts,” according to the agency.
After the true extent and harrowing dimensions of the crimes were unmasked, mostly by the locals who had fled unscathed, local officials as well as users of social networks in Afghanistan blamed Ashraf Ghani for the human disaster. They accused him of remaining tight-lipped and dragging his feet on the gross genocide of Shiites in Mirza Olang.
Shiites: Victims of Ashraf Ghani & Peace Activists’ Project
The Afghan Voice website also reported on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s passive reaction to the catastrophe.
“Although Ashraf Ghani has highlighted the necessity of taking revenge for those killed in Mirza Olang, he did not introduce ISIS and Taliban terrorists as the key perpetrators of the crime, so that the Taliban’s track record would not be stained by this ignominious event, and the trend of Ashraf Ghani’s so-called ethnic peace with them wouldn’t be harmed. Killings and crimes by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorists in different parts of Afghanistan are nothing new. It’s been decades that Afghan people have been victimized by terrorism on a daily basis. What makes the tragedy more painful and further reveals the innocence of the victims is that local officials had, time and again, warned about the possibility of such a human disaster, and called for the deployment of more troops to counter the attack by the Taliban and ISIS.
Central Gov’t Refuses to Dispatch Troops to Mirza Olang
The fury and protest by Afghan people, including Shiites and Sunnis as well as local officials in Sar-e Pol province, at Afghanistan’s central government over the disaster intensified when the Afghan government did not send any ground or air forces to the area even three days after the tragedy happened. That allowed terrorists to commit whatever crime they wanted against the defenseless people of Mirza Olang, from slaughtering children and women to kidnapping young women and girls to taking hundreds of Shiites hostage.
Governor of Sar-e Pol province Mohammad Zaher Vahdat and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Mohammad Mohaqiq are two government officials who, as they say, contacted Afghan security chiefs several times after terrorists began attacking Mirza Olang and called for action to save people.
“From the early hours of the terrorists’ attack, some of my colleagues working for media and I gave the necessary precautions regarding possible crimes in Mirza Olang, but unfortunately, security and military authorities didn’t take our warning seriously until ISIS and Taliban terrorists began killing and slaughtering people in Mirza Olang,” said Zaher Vahdat.
Zaher Vahdat’s Calls and Rights Advocates’ Silence
After two days and the central government’s foot-dragging regarding the deployment of jet fighters and ground forces to save hundreds of residents of Mirza Olang taken captive by terrorists, Zaher Vahdat addressing everybody shouted, “Hey, the international community! Hey, the people of the world! Hey, you so-called advocates of fighting terrorism who are in Afghanistan! Hey, you supporters of human rights and humanity! Notorious and merciless ISIS and Taliban terrorists have taken more than 150 defenseless families captive in Mirza Olang village. They are keeping on killing people without any mercy and fear. Don’t allow Mirza Olang to be registered in the history of the 21st century as a place where defenseless women and children were killed, and don’t allow your silence to make you accessories to this disaster.”
However, it seems those who Zaher Vahdat was addressing are not afraid of being put on the list of accomplices to crimes once again. The reason is that during the several days when Zaher Vahdat was repeatedly making calls for helping the residents of Mirza Olang, no troops were dispatched to the area. Moreover, no human rights institution and international organization mentioned the human disaster, especially at a time when we are surrounded by social media networks and information is disseminated in the twinkling of an eye. The killing of Shiites in Afghanistan unmasked another reality, too, the reality that all terrorist groups are the same because they all have a brutal nature, and all of them promote the policies of hostile governments in the region. Even if they ostensibly turn the gun at each other, they are united against the oppressed.
Many analysts believe the fresh wave of unrest in Afghanistan and the Taliban and ISIS throwing their weight around in the country justify foreign powers’ military buildup in Afghanistan and their ever-increasing influence in the country under the pretext that the government is unable to establish security and fight terrorism in the country.
Captives Released Thanks to Efforts by Local Officials
Muhammad Hassan Sharifi Balkhabi, the representative of the Sar-e Pol province, has weighed in on the key reasons behind the tragedy.
“The disaster happened as a result of an insufficient number of military troops, the weakness of the local government and a lack of prompt support by the central government.”
Zabihollah Amani, a spokesperson for the governor of Sar-e Pol province, also told Afghan media that no troops were sent to the province despite repeated calls on military and security officials to do so.
Local authorities and elders, who had abandoned hope of receiving assistance from the central government, finally managed to secure the release of 250 of the hostages after holding talks with ISIS and Taliban elements. According to local media, the central government was supposed to dispatch troops to Mirza Olang and begin purging it from terrorists on Wednesday, exactly four days after the humanitarian disaster was committed.