Ethnic militias fuelling tensions in North AfghanistanApril 21st, 2011 - 1:11 pm ICT by ANI
Mazar-e-Sharif (Afghanistan), Apr.21 (ANI): Ethnic-based militia groups are reportedly expanding their influence in northern Afghanistan.
According to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report, Tajik and Uzbek militias are aggravating tensions with local Pashtuns - the country’s largest ethnic group.
It also claimed that a minority is being driven to seek the support of the Taliban, a largely Pashtun group, to defend their interests.
The Taliban insurgency has only flared up in the north over the past year, using scattered Pashtun villages as its bases, as Afghan security forces and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization focused their attention on more dangerous parts of the country.
The private militias began appearing around the same time, their numbers surging ahead of parliamentary elections in September and growing significantly in recent months.
What has followed has been a build-up along the fault lines of the country’s civil war of the 1990s.
The governor of Balkh province, the Tajik former warlord General Mohammed Atta Noor, runs at least two such militias, in districts close to Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital and northern Afghanistan’s largest city.
These groups are separate from the U.S.-backed, and more closely supervised, village defense forces known as the Afghan Local Police, or ALP.
Central government officials say Afghan forces are spread too thin to increase deployment in the north.
Karzai has publicly called for the dissolution of all irregular militias. (ANI)
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