Our special envoy in the province of Commander Massoud met the Islamist fighters on the way to regain control of the region which had resisted them since the 1990s. The capture of this stronghold would complete their reconquest of the country.
There is something surreal about watching these hilarious groups of Taliban crammed into pickups as they speed down the narrow, single road that crosses Panshir province. Sure of themselves to the mortuary, assault rifle or rocket launcher in their shoulder, they behave like masters of a territory that had always escaped them. They had never entered the Panshir, even during their first exercise of power between 1996 and 2001. They had never beaten the men of Commander Ahmed Chah Massoud, assassinated by Al-Qaeda on September 9, 2001.
Twenty years later, on Monday September 6, contrary to what they claimed, they had not yet conquered the province. A few villages in the valley floor still resisted them. But they had seized the governor’s palace in Bazarak, a symbol of power now under their control. Listening to them, the battle did not last long. “We were in the village next door. We attacked around 2 a.m. At the end of the morning, it was settled ”, says a young man in sneakers and shoulder-length hair from Ghazni (East). According to him, four Taliban were killed and five others wounded in the fighting. “We didn’t count on the other side.”
Small motley crowd
Around him, a hundred fighters greet each other, embrace or discuss. They are celebrating a victory that has yet to take place. “It’s a matter of days, maybe two”, continues the youth of Ghazni. If his prediction comes true, the Front Nati…