Ahmad Massoud, the founder of the National Resistance Front in Panjshir, has not left Afghanistan and is in a safe place, amid the Taliban claiming to have taken control of the majority of the valley.
The son of anti-Soviet military leader Ahmad Shah Massoud was earlier believed to have left for Turkey, however, Iranian news agency Fars refuted the rumours and reported that the young fierce leader has not left the country.
Massoud was declared his father’s successor at his mausoleum in the Panjshir Valley on September 5 in 2019.
“In recent days, the Taliban entered Panjshir and now 70 per cent of the main streets and passages are under their control, but the valleys of Panjshir are still under the complete control of the popular forces,” the report quoted Qassem Mohammadi, a close aide to Massaoud, as saying.
Last week, Massoud had appealed to the people of Afghanistan to rise against the Taliban and join forces. “Wherever you are, inside or outside, I call on you to begin a national uprising for the dignity, freedom and prosperity of our country,” Ahmad Massoud told Al Jazeera.
His father, Ahmad Shah Massoud was a powerful guerrilla commander during the resistance against the Soviet occupation between 1979 and 1989. He had survived assassination attempts over a period of 26 years, including attempts made by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Pakistani ISI and before them the Soviet KGB, the Afghan communist KHAD and Hekmatyar.
On September 9, 2001, he was assassinated by suicide bombers who disguised as journalists seeking an interview with the leader. During the interview, they set off a bomb composed of explosives hidden in the camera and in a battery-pack belt. Massoud died in a helicopter that was taking him to an Indian military field hospital at Farkhor in nearby Tajikistan. One of the suicide attackers, Bouraoui, was killed by the explosion, while Dahmane Abd al-Sattar was captured and shot while trying to escape.
Meanwhile, five days after all districts of Panjshir and the provincial centre were claimed to be captured by the Taliban, a commander of the Resistance Front in a recorded video message said the militant group’s presence does not mean the end of the war.
Saleh Rigistani, the commander, said they will continue fighting the Taliban forces.
“I am sure that the Mujahideen, the resistance forces and your sons will fight to the death to defend your values and honour,” TOLO News quoted Rigistani as saying on Friday.
“Right now, Panjshir is the centre of resistance and the resistance forces are present in all the mountains,” said Abdul Latif Pedram, the leader of the National Congress Party.
Rigistani also said the people in Panjshir are facing hunger and a lack of medicine.
The Taliban, however, said some of the opposition fighters had fled to the mountains but talks were ongoing to convince them to return to normal life.
Anaamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, said Taliban forces have captured all parts of Panjshir and that the resistance forces are not there in any public way, the report said.
“They do not have a public presence; they are hidden in valleys and caves. Talks are ongoing with them, and we try to encourage them to come and lead peaceful and normal lives among their people,” he said.
Although reports indicate that both sides have agreed on a three-day unofficial ceasefire, neither side has confirmed the reports.
Meanwhile, Iran’s representative in the N called the war in Panjshir “fratricide”.
A number of Panjshir residents said that people are facing numerous problems as roads leading into the province are blocked and telecom services are not working.
“People do not have food. Children need power and people are living scattered in different areas,” Afsana Mohammadi, a Panjshir resident, was quoted as saying by TOLO News.
“Telecom services are completely cut in Panjshir and the lack of electricity is another big problem,” said Abdulwasi Almas, a local reporter from the province.
After the capture of Panjshir, a Taliban spokesperson said that Panjshir would have electricity and telecom services soon, and that roads would open.