Families bear the scar of Islamic State as fight continues in Afghanistan
Islamic State's losses on the ground have not erased the psychological wounds their militants have left on some families in the area.
Afghanistan's National Security Forces (ANSF) are continuing to conduct operations against militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the country's eastern province of Nangarhar, where the effects of IS violence still loom large in people's lives.
Colonel Qand Agha Safi, Anti-IS operation commander says, "A few IS members are living on the Durand line, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are trying to cause problems but we are here to prevent it. IS has failed, they are not powerful anymore, they are being defeated in Nangarhar and now they are trying to go to the north of Afghanistan. As you know some days ago around 200 of them surrendered to the government in the Jawzjan province as well. IS will be finished."
He further adds, "The power that IS had four years ago, they don't have it now. Our forces in Achin have reached the Takhto area and Momand Dara which were under the control of IS. All of Achin was under the control of IS. Now IS has been pushed to the Durand Line, the border with Pakistan. We have seized all the locations from Haska Mina to Gorgoray. Our border forces, police forces, public order forces and national army forces are based there in the Haska Mina district."
ANSF soldiers were seen walking through a reconquered complex in the Haska Mina district that once served as a school and a clinic, before becoming an IS base. The complex was a destroyed shell of its former self, with wreckage filling up what used to be classrooms, and bullet marks visible on the walls and doors.
Khan Akhbar, Resident says, "This is the Papen school. There used to be a clinic used by residents here. Then IS created a base here. IS fighters had an active presence here for four months. They used to fight against Afghan forces and were facing air bombardments but the brave security forces liberated this location from them. Now people are coming one by one, although most of the houses are empty. But people are coming. Security forces have created checkpoints, one is at the top there. In Mia Baba they have a checkpoint as well. The centre for IS fighters used to be here, but now the situation is getting better day by day."
IS losses on the ground have not erased the psychological wounds their militants have left on some families in the area.
Sawab Khan, Father of 18-year old killed by IS says, "My son's name was Asama. We used to farm here. IS fighters took my innocent son and killed him and haven't given us his dead body. I am here now with my small children and we have nothing in life. My son was a farmer and he doesn't belong to anyone now."
In addition to fighting against IS, the ANSF is currently embroiled in a years-long conflict against the Taliban.
The United Nations announced on July 15 that the number of Afghan civilians killed in the fighting hit a record high in the first half of 2018, with 1,692 people having lost their lives.