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Afghan villagers rise up against Taliban in south

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Dozens of Afghan villagers have taken up arms against the Taliban in one of their key southern heartlands, the latest in a series of such uprisings, villagers and officials say.

Analysts caution that the movements could be attempts by local militia leaders to reassert their authority ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops, or could be orchestrated as part of a government strategy.

The uprising in Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Islamist militants, was launched by a tribal elder at the weekend after the militia threatened to kill one of his sons for joining a US-backed community police force.

Haji Abdul Udood, a tribal chief in the province's troubled Panjwayi district, said the villagers were fed up with Taliban "atrocities", including roadside bombings that kill more civilians than troops.

More than 60 youths had joined the movement in just two days, Udood told AFP in Kakaran village, about 10 kilometres (six miles) west of Kandahar city.

In their first encounter with the Taliban on Sunday night -- in an attack backed by police -- three Taliban were killed and dozens were forced to flee to the mountains, Udood and a police official said.

General Abdul Raziq, the provincial police chief in Kandahar, said he had provided the villagers with arms and ammunition.

"Right now we are providing training to the villagers. We have provided guns and bullets and we are supporting this," Raziq told AFP.

He said that the youths taking part in the uprising would be recruited to the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a US-sponsored community police force assigned to fight the Taliban in remote villages.

The police chief said the move was effective in the battle against the Taliban and that it could deal the militants with a major blow.

Udood said he started the uprising after the Taliban tried to kill one of his sons, accusing him of joining the ALP.

"I and my eight sons took up our guns and told the Taliban we will fight you. Three other villagers who had lost members of their family to Taliban bombings joined us, more people joined us," he added.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130212/afghan-villagers-rise-against-taliban-south