Clash over Badakhshan azure mine claims 3 lives
FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): Three people were killed and two wounded after gunmen loyal to two rival illegal militia leaders clashed over the ownership of an azure mine in northeastern Badakhshan province, an official said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, local residents and members of the provincial council asked the government to take control of the site and the excavation process for precious stone deposits in Kiran wa Minjan district, the scene of Tuesday’s clash.
Badakhshan deputy police chief Col. Sakhi Dad Haidari said the fighting erupted late on Tuesday between gunmen of commanders Abdul Malik and Abdul Qadir.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News Qadir lost two gunmen and Malik one to the firefight. What exactly sparked the clash remained unknown, but the two groups had a history of clashes over the azure mine in the district.
Commander Abdul Malik has been controlling the mine over the past two years, while Qadir, who wields influence in the area, wants a share in income from the riches.
A few months back, national and public order police personnel attempted to take control of the mine, but faced with stiff resistance from Abdul Malik, triggering a clash that left five policemen dead, their two vehicles and a tank destroyed.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) dispatched a delegation to the area to investigate the incident, but the commission is yet to produce its findings.
Abdullah Naji Nazari, head of the provincial council, said excavation of the azure mine should be legalised and the government should immediately prevent commander Abdul Malik from controlling the national treasure.
Ahmad Javed, another member of the provincial council, accused Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah of allowing smuggling of azure to Kabul via Panjsher after the president banned its transfer via Badakhshan.
A contract for the azure mine was awarded to an Afghan company about 15 years ago. However, the mine continues to be controlled by Abdul Malik for the last two years.
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