Dushanbe deploys extra troops along Afghan border after Tajik militant activity

Tajikistan has deployed additional troops along its southern border with Afghanistan after Kabul authorities claimed a group of Tajik militants played a key role in the capture of a district in northern Badakhshan province.

Badakshan’s Maymay district was captured in November by what local officials claimed were mainly foreign fighters, RFE/RL reported.

According to Afghan officials, the militants were from Jamaat Ansarullah, an insurgent group founded in Afghanistan by Tajik national Amriddin Tabarov in 2010.

RFE/RL reported that earlier this month, a video was posted on social media reportedly showing Tajik insurgents fighting against Afghan government forces in Maymay.

Footage shows them killing men in Afghan Army uniforms and civilian clothes and setting fire to a building. At the end, the militants, who spoke a Persian dialect spoken in Tajikistan, show off weapons and vehicles they claim to have seized from the Afghan troops.

Afghan authorities confirmed the killings and the destruction in Maymay and local residents said militants, “particularly the Tajiks,” killed and beheaded Afghan soldiers.

Tajik officials have meanwhile identified at least 15 Tajik nationals whose faces or names appeared on videos and statements shared by Afghan officials in connection with the fall of Maymay, RFE/RL reported.

This has however caused concern in Dushanbe, because they are ordinary individuals with no apparent connections to any political, religious, or opposition groups, the report read.

Sources speaking on condition of anonymity told RFE/RL that these Tajik militants are people who left the country between 2010 and 2017 – men mainly aged between 20 and 40 years – and some took their wives and children with them to Afghanistan.

Tajik authorities haven’t commented publicly about the border reinforcements but they said that border security continues as normal.

“It is a real threat. Today they’re fighting for the Taliban, but we can’t predict what they’re going to do in the future,” sources in Dushanbe told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service.

These sources, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said however that an elite military unit had been deployed near the areas where Tajik fighters are thought to be concentrated on the Afghan side of the border.

Meanwhile, Badakhshan Deputy Governor Akhtar Muhammad Khairzada told Pajhwok news agency that the militants are mainly based in Warduj and Jurm districts in Badakshan and that there were also Uzbek, Chechen, and Chinese Uyghur militants based in the area.

Afghan officials estimate the number of Tajik militants in the country at around 200, but the exact figure is impossible to confirm.