Badakhshan clash being investigated

FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into the killing of five policemen in a clash with armed men loyal to an illegal commander over the control of azure mines in northeastern Badakhshan province, an official said on Wednesday.

Badakhshan police spokesperson Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai told Pajhwok News that the Yamgan district police chief, Abdul Zahir Mujaddedi, and azure mines security guards commander, Assadullah, a day earlier tried to gain control of a portion of the mines from the illegal commander in Kiran wa Manjan district.

But the illegal commander, Abdul Malik, put up resistance and as a result, five policemen were killed in the ensuing clash. Malik also captured two police and as many armoured vehicles.

The police spokesman said the Yamgan district police chief had conducted the raid without permission from the provincial police headquarters.

To investigate the incident, Ahmadzai said the Ministry of Interior had sent a delegation to the area and the investigators were expected to arrive back to Faizabad today.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, claimed the fighters attacked a police convoy in Robat area, killing 13 policemen and destroying three tanks and two pick up vehicles. However, local authorities reject the existence of Taliban in the area.

A contract to extract azure in Kiran wa Manjan was awarded to an Afghan company 15 years ago, but local authorities say commander Abdul Malik controls a part of the mines since last year.

Badakhshan Mines Director Mohammad Akbar Anwari said law and order should be strengthened around these mines, which he called a source of people’s prosperity.

Azure production in Afghanistan is estimated between five to 10 tonnes a year and a major portion of it is exported abroad and a limited amount is supplied to local industries.

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