Afghanistan’s Ghazni province is once again under fire. The Taliban, despite being in talks with several international stakeholders to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, laid siege earlier this month to Jaghori and Malistan, two relatively safer districts, forcing thousands to flee their homes. The districts are populated predominantly by the Hazara Shia people, who have been targeted in the past two years by various terrorist groups, including the Islamic State.

While several civilian casualties were reported, exact figures are unclear. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which has been monitoring the situation since the attacks began on November 10, observed “intensified ground operations and air strikes” that resulted in the flight of civilians to Bamyan and Maidan-Wardak provinces, as well as Kabul.

“Initially centered at the villages of Hussaini, Karez and Kondala, the fighting spread to the districts of Jaghori and Malistan in the neighbouring Ghazni province,” the organisation’s daily report stated on Wednesday.

“Local sources indicate that at least 15 civilians were killed in Malistan on 11 November,” it said, adding that the total number of civilian casualties is likely to be higher.

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