Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Monday that a task team has been appointed to investigate reports that a deal was made between security force members and the Taliban that led to the fall of the Teergaran base in Badakhshan a few days ago.
On Sunday, the Taliban freed 142 Afghan Local Police and border police who had reportedly surrendered to the insurgents on Saturday. They were freed following efforts on the part of tribal elders.
On Monday however, Sediqqi said that the circumstances of the incident were being probed especially in light of the fact that the Taliban had seized a large quantity of weapons.
“The Ministry of Interior has taken the matter under investigation and a delegation has been appointed to investigate the surrendering of local police forces to the Taliban,” said Sediqqi.
“These forces do not have a lack of equipment and ammunition and were able to protect their military base. Until the last minute the Minister of Interior had direct contact with them. The incident needs to be investigated to find out who made a deal with the Taliban,” Sediqqi added.
These claims followed the release of security force members who told officials that their move to surrender had been arranged.
Badakhshan police Chief Gen. Baba Jan has pointed a finger at Teergaran base’s local police commander for having cut a deal with the Taliban and said that he has evidence to back this up.
“Commander Jalal who was in charge of local police surrendered to the Taliban as part of a deal and other soldiers who witnessed the situation fled the area and surrendered to the security forces,” said Gen. Baba Jan Badakhshan police chief.
Despite the security force members having been released, there are fears that the weapons seized by the Taliban could be used against troops in other districts in Badakhshan.
“The base was not a base that could easily collapse. Hundreds of mortars were coming but there was nothing serious that could not be controlled,” said one of the Teergaran base soldiers.
The Taliban reportedly forced the mass surrender of over 140 security officers at the base on Saturday – pushing closer to a strategic pass at the border with Pakistan.
In addition to seizing weapons and ammunition, the Taliban also seized food.
Meanwhile, Badakhshan provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib told Reuters that an offensive to retake control of the base will be launched soon.
The capture of the base on Saturday, after days of fighting, was perhaps the Taliban’s greatest advance in Badakhshan since being ousted from power in 2001, according to a Western security report.
It said the Taliban gains cut off the route to China and left just one significant government outpost before a strategically important crossing at the Pakistani border.
“If successful, they [Taliban] will be able to establish a corridor… facilitating the cross-border movement of fighters currently based in Pakistan,” the report said.
The Taliban said in a statement that local elders had negotiated the release of 120 captured policemen, and that it had obtained guarantees they would not return to battle.
This is not the first time the Taliban has seized a base in Badakhshan and gotten away with light and heavy weapons. Recently, clashes in Jurm and Yamgan districts led to the killing of a number of security force members. The Taliban were also able to make off with military hardware in these incidents.