A senior Afghan security official claimed that the Taliban is making efforts to take military equipment, including tanks, to Pakistan -- as the group continues to take over various districts, security outposts and military bases that house dozens of vehicles, tanks and others.
Acting Interior Minister Gen. Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal who visited the eastern province of Paktia on Saturday said his remarks were based on intelligence information he has received.
“There is also information that the Taliban take some (military) tanks to Pakistan through Zabul province (in southern Afghanistan),” the acting interior minister said. “The National Security Council and the commander in chief have ordered permanent patrols to target any tank that is tried to be taken to Pakistan.”
Another high-ranking official at the same event echoed the minister's remarks by saying that some military equipment has been transferred across the Durand Line – the de facto border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“They have taken military equipment owned by security forces across the Durand Line,” said Shamim Khan Katawazai, head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance. “There are evidence and footage about this. Pakistani soldiers have clicked photos with them.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the claims on the transfer of military equipment by the group to Pakistan.
This comes as heavy fighting is underway in Paktia between security forces and the Taliban for the last week. Security forces retook Ahmad Aba and Mirzaka districts in Paktia from the Taliban in the last three days.
Paktia officials said that they have arrested Pakistani nationals who fought in the ranks of the Taliban during their operations.
Mirzaka district fell to the Taliban three days ago. Most parts of the district, especially government buildings, have been damaged in the clashes or have been set on fire as officials described.
Local officials claimed that the Taliban "has set ablaze" many security outposts and have "destroyed" some roads.
“Unfortunately, they (Taliban) burn and destroyed government establishments. They don’t have another message,” Paktia governor Halim Fedaee said.
The 203 Corps Commander Gen. Jalaluddin Yaftali said that military operations are underway to retake seven Paktia districts that have fallen to the Taliban.
“They have made destructions in all districts,” Gen. Yaftali said. “They have broken glasses. They have set ablaze some establishments.”
Taliban has rejected the claims by security officials.
Paktia has 14 districts. At least 10 of them have fallen to the Taliban recently, but three, including Ahmad Aba, Mirzaka and Sayed Karam, were retaken while the group still has influence over Janikhil, Dand-e-Patan, Samkanai, Zazai Aryub, Ahmadkhil, Lazha Mangal and Rouhani Baba districts.