FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): Local officials claim as many as 450 foreign insurgents have been fighting alongside Taliban insurgents in northeastern Badakhshan province and trying to control border areas.
Akhtar Mohammad Khairzada, Badakhshan’s deputy governor, in an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News said that the number of foreign fighters in the province had been limited in the past but had significantly increased now.
He said it was a matter of concern that foreign insurgents from different countries were operating in the province.
“These terrorists belong to Jamaat Ansarullah of Tajikistan, Harakat-i-Islami of eastern Turkistan, Chinese Uyghurs, Uzbekistan and Islamic Emirate of Caucasus. The main center of these terrorists is Warduj and Juram districts. They have recently sneaked into border districts such as Maimi and Nasi,” he said.
He said the foreign rebels were fighting alongside Taliban militants against the Afghan security forces.
The presence of these terrorists has created concerns for neighboring countries including Tajikistan, Russia and China which share borders with Badakhshan, Khairzada added.
Abdullah Naji Nazari, a provincial council member of Badakhshan, said that strategic location of the province, open borders with Pakistan and the province’s shared borders with Pakistan, China and Tajikistan offered sanctuary to foreign insurgents from different countries.
Nasir Ahmadi, a political analyst in Badakhshan, said that the presence of foreign fighters in the province helped the Taliban swell their ranks.
He warned if the local administration did not take timely action for elimination of these militants, they might be empowered and attack Central Asian countries who would blame Afghanistan for the unrest.
“Presence of foreign insurgents has empowered the Taliban in Badakhshan and has created concerns for our neighbors. If the government does not take action, neighboring countries probably engage them and the province will turn into a battlefield,” he added.
He said that Russia always expressed concern about presence Daesh or Islamic State (IS) militants in the north of Afghanistan and the group’s recruitment of Afghans for fighting.
Meanwhile, Hazrat Jan Begi, a resident of Nasi district, said, “Foreign terrorists, particularly the Ansarullah group of Tajikistan had a key role in the collapse of Maimi district. When these terrorists captured the district, they killed all Afghan soldiers and beheaded them.”
He also asked the government to control presence of insurgent groups in the province.
However, Sanaullah Rouhani, Badakhshan police spokesman, said they would not let any group operate in the province and would launch operations for clearing areas of rebels.
“Afghan forces would take revenge of the soldiers killed in last month’s fight with terrorists,” he said.
However, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said, “This claims is false, we reject it, we do not let any foreign fighter in our ranks, all these claims are rumors, we have enough fighters in Badakhshan and other provinces…”