Balkh which was relatively calm compared to other provinces in the north has been faced with rising threats over the past few months as officials said the Taliban militants are trying to infiltrate the northern province from neighboring regions.
The Taliban fighters have flocked to Balkh from neighboring Faryab, Sar-e-Pul, Kunduz and Jawzjan provinces, Balkh Police Chief Gen. Mohammad Afzal Faez told reporters on Thursday.
Mr. Faez said that at least 40 Taliban fighters were killed in clashes with Afghan security forces in Zari district of the province over the past two days.
At least 12 security force members have lost their lives while battling the insurgents, Mr. Faez said.
“The enemy has the plan to overrun one or two districts of Balkh at any cost to show to their bosses that they have a presence here,” Mr. Faez said.
Zari, Sholagara and Chahar Kant are among the key districts in Balkh which have witnessed security threats over the past few months.
“No area has collapsed to the Taliban and will not in the future,” the Commander of Afghan Army’s 209 Shaheen Corps, Gen. Mohammad Wali Ahmadzai, said.
“Despite consecutive calls by MPs, Balkh Provincial Council, local officials, and the police headquarters, the Ministry of Interior did not send us arms,” head of Balkh Provincial Council, Mohammad Afzal Hadid, said.
In recent months, violence also reported on some key highways connecting to other provinces.
Reports say the Taliban often establish checkpoints along the highway which has made it difficult for government employees to commute on these highways.
This comes despite efforts by senior negotiators from the US and the Taliban who preparing for a ninth round of peace talks in Doha aimed at finding a political settlement to the current turmoil in the country.