Residents of the northeastern Badakhshan province on Sunday criticized government and the security forces for the fall of Arghanj Khwa district to the Taliban.
The district reportedly fell to the Taliban on Saturday morning but the Ministry of Interior Affairs’ spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said it as planned retreatment to prevent casualties.
“The area was vulnerable and the security forces had temporarily pulled out from there to prevent more causalities,” said Rahimi.
Arghanj Khwa is located in the vicinity of Faizabad city, the provincial capital, and is a connecting point between the center of the province and 10 other districts.
“The district has fallen to the Taliban due to the ‘negligence’ of the central and provincial government,” said a resident of Badakhshan.
“Government should respond to the people. People are ready to ensure their security if government cannot shoulder this responsibility. How much more should we be subjected to killings?” a Badakhshan resident asked.
Local officials confirmed that Taliban militants have taken the control of the district and have killed at least 10 security force members.
Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, former Deputy Minister of Interior, said the district has a strategic location as it connects Faizabad, the capital city of Badakhshan, with other parts of the province.
“The district is evacuated. Security forces are fighting in surrounding areas. Around 15 people have been killed,” Yarmand said.
Arghanj Khwa is the first district of Badakhshan fallen to the Taliban in 2019. However, in 2018, three districts of the province – Kohistan, Warduj and Yumgan – had fallen to the Taliban.
Taliban in a statement claimed that they took control of the district and killed 13 security force members, including two police chiefs.