For several years, Norwegian soldiers patrolled Mazar-i-Sharif. Now the Taliban has surrounded the city. – I fear for my life, says a resident who previously served in the Norwegian forces.
In the past week, the Taliban has advanced faster than anyone expected: Eighteen provincial capitals are now controlled by Islamist militants. (see fact box).
In Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, locals fear the next city to fall. The city, which has a population of 400,000, besieged by the Taliban.
Between 2006 and 2014, Norwegian soldiers were stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif, Based on “Nidaros Camp”..
Earlier this summer The last Norwegian fighters returned home from Afghanistanafter, after The United States and NATO began a full withdrawal.
The Taliban is almost at the door
On the phone from Mazar-i-Sharif, a resident said that the Taliban were only five kilometers from his home, and that he feared they might suddenly end up on his doorstep.
– I fear for my life, because it is uncertain how far the Taliban can advance, he tells VG.
Allegedly, the Taliban have become much more brutal and are hunting innocent people to kill.
“I don’t dare to leave my house or visit my family, because the Taliban have many spies who can suddenly arrest us,” he said.
– If the Taliban takes over Mazar-i-Sharif, we will lose the freedom we have, the man continues.
The man was working as a cleaner for the Norwegian forces, but he also did some translation work. VG knows the identity of the man, and has seen photos and letters documenting that he worked with Norwegian forces.
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Another local resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, who also worked for the Norwegian Troop Contribution, tells VG about the fear he feels.
“In a town just outside Mazar, the Taliban attacked my family’s house,” he told VG.
Because of this, he does not dare to go there to visit family, he explains.
“Since the Taliban are looking for civilians, I am afraid of what might happen to me and my family members,” he said.
– I don’t know if we’ll see our family again, he adds.
If the Taliban took control of Mazar, he feared he would be killed in a retaliatory attack. The man believes that since he has worked with Norwegian forces before, he is considered a traitor in the eyes of the Taliban.
Among the locals in Mazar-i-Sharif Local employees of Norway in Afghanistan, and worked in the Norwegian forces for eight years.
Norwegian Soldiers’ Unknown Stories: Leave Afghanistan
We are sorry to work with the Norwegian Forces
Previously, people who worked as interpreters for Norwegian forces were granted residence in Norway due to their security situation. In June of this year, this was expanded:
The Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness then sent instructions that all locally recruited personnel in the armed forces and the embassy in Kabul must be able to remain in Norway.
These instructions apply both to those who worked as interpreters, but also to cleaners, drivers and other employees.
But the new instructions have no retroactive effect: they only apply to those who have served Norway in Kabul in recent years, not those who have worked with Norwegian forces in cities like Mazar-i-Sharif before.
The two local citizens feel let down by the Norwegian authorities and believe that Norway has a responsibility to protect them.
– We should probably never work with the Norwegian authorities when they can’t even help us in such a difficult situation, one of the guys told VG.
– Now that we are in a life-threatening situation, it is as if Norway has shut the door in our face. It seems we were only important to the Norwegian forces when it was convenient for them. “Now that we’re going through a hard time, it doesn’t make sense to them,” he continues.
President Ashraf Ghani arrived, on Wednesday, from the capital, Kabul, to boost the morale of the soldiers who will defend the important city. In other large cities, Afghan soldiers laid down their weapons and fled when the Taliban advanced.
Former Vice President and Warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum has also traveled to Mazar-i-Sharif with a group of commandos, NTB reports.
Dostum sat down in meetings with President and Governor Atta Mohamed Nour on Wednesday to discuss defending the city, NTB writes.
– I’m staying in Afghanistan.
It is difficult to say for sure whether Mazar-i-Sharif will be occupied by Taliban forces, says Terje Waterdale, director of the Afghan committee at VG.
Waterdale said by phone to VG from Kabul.
It is not only about ability, but also the will to fight for what one believes in, he adds.
– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs encouraged all Norwegians in Afghanistan to leave the country, do you have plans to return to Norway?
The Travel Board does not necessarily include Norwegians who work in development assistance or humanitarian work. So I chose to stay in Afghanistan.
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