Afghanistan villagers describe life under ISIL's rule

Weeks after ISIL-linked fighters are pushed back by Afghan forces in country's east, residents tell their stories.

    Weeks after the Afghan government claimed victory over ISIL-linked fighters in the country's east, local residents have described living in fear for almost a year under the rule of the armed group.

    In early March, President Ashraf Ghani said Afghanistan would be a "graveyard" for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), as he announced that Afghan forces had dislodged fighters loyal to the group from regions of Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan.

    According to officials and local residents, Afghan soldiers and local villagers teamed up to push the fighters back 8km and recapture 22 villages.

    The ISIL loyalists had held some remote districts in the country's east for almost a year.  

    ISIL recruiting and brainwashing Afghan children
    Locals told Al Jazeera that many schools were closed down while the fighters controlled the area and pupils were warned not to attempt attending classes.

    One of the schools, Deserak High School in Achin district, was shut down and turned into the group's headquarters.

    "They told us this school was part of the infidel, non-believers and they prevented us from learning," said pupil Ahmed Shinwari,. 

    Residents of Akhond Zadgan village said many Afghan soldiers were captured and beheaded, or shot, during the fight to take back control of the area.

    One resident, Sabar Mira, told Al Jazeera that she lost two of her grandsons this way.

    "They cut my grandson Ali to pieces and beheaded him. Hakim was shot dead. Now I have been left destroyed. These dogs killed both of them," she said. 

    Another villager, Said Amin, witnessed similar incidents. 

    "If they found an Afghan army soldier, they would behead him and then put the head on the stomach," he told Al Jazeera.

    The fighters would leave a note saying the body had to be left on display for some time, and anybody who moved it would get the same punishment.

    READ MORE: ISIL hits Afghan airwaves to drum up support

    Not trusting the Afghan army to do enough to protect them, some villagers formed their own groups to protect the district. 

    "If the government stands with us, they [ISIL] will not be able to retake this area. But if they don't help us, they could take it tomorrow," Pir Mohammed, a village elder, told Al Jazeera. 

    John Campbell, the former US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said earlier this month there were between 1,000 and 3,000 ISIL fighters in the country.

    Some officials say most fighters calling themselves ISIL are disaffected Taliban members.

    Last year, ISIL-claimed beheadings of a group of ethnic Hazara people prompted mass protests in the country.

    Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital, Kabul, urging the government to take action against rising violence against Afghan civilians. 

    Documentary - ISIL and the Taliban

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.