Gunfire and widespread shooting were heard in Mazar-e-Sharif city on Thursday close to police headquarters and the roads nearby were closed to traffic as armed forces loyal to former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor are resisting the appointment of new police chief for the northern province.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has announced that Gen. Abdul Raqib Mubarez will replace incumbent police commander Gen. Ikramuddin Sami, saying security situation has drastically worsened in Sholgarah, Balkh and Chimtal districts of the province.
“At least 25 illegal armed men were arrested by the police after opening fire on the police headquarters and the security forces, one security force member was wounded in the firing” said Nusrat Rahimi, acting MoI spokesman.
“Security situation is totally under the control of the security forces inside the police headquarters and all over Mazar-e-Sharif city,” added Rahimi.
Balkh police have confirmed that Mubarez arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday who was accompanied by a delegation of the Ministry of Interior.
Meanwhile, Atta Mohammad Noor, the Chief Executive of Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan who also served as Balkh governor has said that the new appointment violates the agreement he had reached with President Ashraf Ghani last year.
Noor has called on the people in the province not to go to their works and shut their businesses in protest to the controversial appointment.
But residents in Mazar-e-Sharif have expressed concerns over violence.
Reports, meanwhile, indicate that special units of Afghan National Police (ANP) were deployed in key areas of the province to avoid a possible security threat on eve of the appointment of new commander.
Local officials in Balkh so far have not given further details about the issue.
According to Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman to Balkh governor, discussion is underway between tribal elders, MPs, members of Balkh provincial council and government representative to resolve the issue.
Some residents have said that security situation deteriorated in the province in recent months and that if the reshuffling lead to stability they will welcome such a move.
This comes at a time that the 209 Shaheen Army Corps in a statement said that the army is on red alert to ensure security and safety of the people’s life and property.