Amu Region

Tajikistan forces kill three ‘terrorists’ who crossed border from Afghanistan

Tajikistan’s special forces have killed three members of the militant group Jamaat Ansarullah, after they reportedly entered the country illegally from Afghanistan, and seized a large cache of weapons and ammunition.

Quoting Tajikistan’s State Security Council, local news outlets reported the terrorists illegally crossed the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border on the night of August 30. They entered the country through the Kevron district of Darvaz region, in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan.

AKIPress reported that Tajikistan’s counter-terrorism unit established a cordon around the location where the group was hiding and called on them to surrender. “The terrorists did not obey the orders of the security forces and opened fire. As a result of the shootout, three members of the armed terrorist group were neutralized,” AKIPress cited a statement from the State Security Committee.

The committee said they seized five Kalashnikov assault rifles, two M-16 sniper rifles, an M-4 carbine, four pistols, 13 hand grenades, magazines for weapons and cartridges, various devices, including night vision binoculars, 30 packs of explosives, 162 detonator capsules, remote controls for explosives, $10,000 in cash, medical supplies, and body armor.

Notebooks containing diagrams and maps, instructions on how to use explosives, venues for mass gatherings, and the location of government buildings and institutions were also found.

The committee stated that the group’s “goal was to commit terrorist acts on the territory of Tajikistan on the eve of the Independence Day,” which is held annually on September 9.

The committee also reported that “these terrorist groups have undergone combat training under the leadership of these structures. They were provided with military equipment, explosives, and finances.”

Asia Plus meanwhile reported that this is not the first time something like this has happened. Citing the State Security Committee, Asia Plus reported: “These are not the first attempts by members of the Ansorullah terrorist group to destabilize the situation in the republic [of Tajikistan]. On April 26 of this year, two members of the organization also illegally crossed the state border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan in the Dashti Yazgulyam section of Vanj district in order to commit a terrorist act. As a result of the anti-terrorist operation, the terrorists were neutralized.”

Concerns of abandoned US military weapons falling into the wrong hands have been growing over the past few months.

Late last month, the Taliban rejected a UN Security Council report claiming that several terrorist groups, including Daesh/ISIS, are present in Afghanistan and have access to weapons left by US-led foreign forces.

At the time, the Taliban stated that it “once again rejects these baseless accusations and, while calling for transparent involvement in such issues, states that in the last two years, Afghan security forces have conducted hundreds of continuous operations against illegal weapons and ISIS.”

The rebuttal came after two UN counter-terrorism officials told the Secu­rity Council that Daesh/ISIS and its affiliates, such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were armed with NATO-caliber wea­pons and continued to pose a significant threat in conflict zones and neighboring countries.

Neighboring Pakistan also accuses Kabul of not doing enough to control “Afghanistan-based” TTP militants who have unleashed a spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Two days ago, Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar claimed that US military equipment left behind during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has fallen into militant hands and ultimately made its way to the TTP.

The equipment — which includes a wide variety of items, from night vision goggles to firearms — is now “emerging as a new challenge” for Islamabad as it has enhanced the fighting capabilities of the TTP, Kakar said.

The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, have over the past months intensified attacks on Pakistan’s security forces. They are a separate militant group but an ally of the Afghan Taliban.

There is no definite information on how much US equipment was left behind — but the Taliban seized US-supplied firepower, recovering guns, ammunition, helicopters and other modern military equipment from Afghanistan’s former security forces who surrendered it. While no one knows the exact value, US defense officials have confirmed it is significant.

On Monday, Kakar did not provide evidence to support his allegation or directly link the Taliban in Afghanistan and the TTP but he said a “coordinated approach” needs to be adopted in order to tackle the challenge of the leftover equipment.

Since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Islamabad says TTP fighters have increasingly been given shelter by the de-facto authorities in Afghanistan, allowing them to plan attacks on Pakistan from across the border.

In August, the UN reported that regional member states of the United Nations have reported that NATO-caliber weapons previously belonging to the Afghanistan Defense and Security Forces were being transferred to ISIL-K (Daesh) by groups affiliated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. These groups include Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement among others.

The report meanwhile came a few weeks after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state television in an interview that Daesh leaders had been sent to Afghanistan from Iraq, Syria, and Libya in recent months. “This is one of the challenges facing the Taliban,” he said at the time.

At the time, the Taliban rejected the claim and said: “If Iran has any intelligence that Daesh members have been transferred to Afghanistan, we hope [they] share it so the Afghan security forces can take the necessary steps.”