Last weekend, the Afghan government lost the village of Mirza Olang to fighters connected to a Taliban commander. 50 civilians, mostly Shi’ite, were killed in the course of the offensive, and 30 homes were burnt to the ground.
And while most of the village population escaped, elders are trying to start talks with the Taliban to convince them to free some 150 families that didn’t get out, and are effectively being held hostage within the captured territory.
There’s a clear timeline on this, as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is promising “revenge” of a military nature as soon as security forces can get reinforcements into the remote area. That might take some time, but the elders are hopeful they can extricate the civilians from the area before such fighting happens.
Local officials had accused the Taliban in this case of fighting alongside ISIS fighters in the attack, though the Taliban insists that is not the case, and that they’d have nothing to do with ISIS for the purposes of such offensives. The Sar-e Pol Province doesn’t have much ISIS presence, and the Taliban controls a lot of territory basically everywhere in the country at this point, making it unlikely they’d need outside help for a single village.