IS trying to find foothold in Badakhshan
FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): The provincial council chief on Tuesday claimed the self-styled Islamic State group had launched efforts to find a foothold in northeastern Badakhshan province and asked the government to take timely action against the new emerging threat.
Abdullah Naji warned of witnessing another bloody year if the government did not pay attention to the growing insecurity.
He said there were reports that the Islamic State was planning to make its presence felt in Badakhshan but so far it had been unsuccessful. He said the IS’s success depended on Afghan forces ability to perform their duty enthusiastically.
Concerns have been raised about IS activities in Helmand, Farah, Logar, Kunar, Sar-i-Pul provinces, with observers saying the group’s presence is not a propaganda and its activities should be blocked in advance.
There are also reports that Taliban militants have changed their white flags with IS’s black flag and they acted in compliance with orders from the Iraq and Syria-based group in various provinces.
“Unfortunately the government has so far been in a defensive position rather than an offensive. If Afghan forces do not beat back insurgents from areas prone to them such as Warduj, Yamgan and Jurm districts within one or two months, it would have bad consequences for Badakhshan residents,” argued the provincial council head.
“A number of foreign fighters have been killed during Afghan forces operations in Badakhshan, something that clearly indicates that terrorists and neighbouring countries are out to destabilise the province. The government should be cautious,” he added.
Local officials deny IS presence in Badakhshan, but Acting Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said around 120 foreign nationals, including Chechen, Uzbek and Tajik, were active in Jurm district and they could pose a serious threat. “If the district is not purged from these militants, they could threaten neighboring districts.”
Jurm and Warduj are among insecure districts and despite security operations, militants remain active in a number of localities where skirmishes had led to casualties on both the sides. Two Tajik and a Chechen national were killed during Afghan forces air raids two months back and last month, the Taliban beheaded two policemen in Jurm district.
Security officials claim foreign militants are training Taliban militants in making bombs and heavy weaponries.
As many as 12 family members of foreign nationals and 29 others including women and children were arrested in Tagab district and handed over to their respective countries through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Around 1,000 families were displaced last year due to clashes in Jurm and Warduj districts and the families have been facing lack of shelter and food and could not return to their homes in the presence of militants.
Gen. Tamkeen, the commander of security cooperation center in Badakhshan, said, “previously we would plan security operations after suffering casualties, but now we are planning massive clean-up operations to be launched within two months in Jurm and Warduj districts.”
Clean-up operations are currently ongoing in southern Helmand province and would be extended later to northern Kunduz and in the third phase to Badakhshan, he added.
Security operations last year lessened security challenges in a number of districts and Yamgan district was retaken from Taliban control.
Badakhshan is a mountainous province having 28 districts. It borders Pakistan, China and Tajikistan.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.