'Scorpion' Taliban send farmers scurrying from area controlled by NATO troops

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Lashkar Gah (Afghanistan), May 17 (ANI): The largest American-led military operation in Marja in Afghanistan has led to the Taliban terrorizing the local population, especially the farming community. So intense is the level of coercion that the Taliban have been labeled as "scorpions" for forcing farmers to flee the area.

"The Taliban are everywhere, they are like scorpions under every stone, and they are stinging all those who get assistance or help the government and the Americans," the New York Times quoted Abdul Rahman, a farmer, as saying.

According to the paper, the fleeing of farmers is one of the most telling indications that Taliban fighters have found a way to resume their insurgency, three months after thousands of troops invaded their stronghold in a foray aimed at taking control of southern Afghanistan.

As the coalition prepares for the next major offensive in the southern city of Kandahar, the uneasy standoff in Marja, where neither the American Marines nor the Taliban have gained the upper hand and clashes occur daily, provides a stark lesson in the challenges of eliminating a patient and deeply rooted insurgency.

Over 150 families have fled Marja in the last two weeks, according to the Afghan Red Crescent Society in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

"People are leaving; you see 10 to 20 families each day on the road who are leaving Marja due to insecurity," said Rahman, 52.

"It is now hard to live there in this situation," he added.hose who remain in Marja have said security is very poor and that their lives are in danger.

"I am sure if I stay in Marja I will be killed one day either by Taliban or the Americans," said Mir Hamza, 40, a farmer from Loye Charahi. (ANI)

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