Afghanistan: Taliban operating close to Afghan-Tajik border
|Publication Date||6 January 2010|
|Cite as||EurasiaNet, Afghanistan: Taliban operating close to Afghan-Tajik border, 6 January 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b966e6e1e.html [accessed 20 November 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Kunduz Province, once a relative calm corner of Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan, is developing into a hotbed of conflict between coalition forces and Taliban militants.
Taliban insurgents have stepped up operations in northern Afghanistan in recent months. Some political experts attribute the increase in activity to the opening of the Northern Distribution Network, an overland resupply route for US and NATO forces that connects Western Europe to Afghanistan via Central Asian states.
Since the start of 2010, dozens of Taliban fighters have been killed in Kunduz. On January 5, 14 militants reportedly were killed in a mishap as they tried to rig a truck bomb, Afghanistan's ATV quoted local officials as saying.
In the deadliest battle of the new year, Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and US Special Forces killed 25 Taliban fighters on January 2 in an Afghan village less than 10-kilometers from the Tajik border. The fighters were cornered by air and ground forces in Mulla Qul, a small village in Kunduz's Archi District, according to Mohammad Omar, the provincial governor. ANA representatives said the militants attempted to ambush the soldiers and a gun battle ensued. Special Forces then called for air support.
Several foreign-born militants were reported killed in the Mulla Qul operation, including four men allegedly from the North Caucasus. An additional 20 militants were taken prisoner, the Afghanistan.ru news website reported on January 5.
Elsewhere, US Special Forces killed three Taliban fighters in central Kunduz and arrested three others on January 5. "US Special Forces troops raided a compound in Chardara dDstrict during a search operation late last night and killed three militants including their commander Baz Mohammad," Abdul Rahman Haqtash, the deputy provincial police chief, told news agencies on January 6.
During the late 1990s, when the Taliban held power in Kabul, Kunduz was one of the Islamic militant movement's main hubs in the North. The US-led invasion in late 2001 drove Taliban fighters from the area, which remained relatively militant-free until mid-2009.
There are 113,000 US and NATO troops currently serving in Afghanistan, but 2009 marked a record year for coalition casualties. A surge of up to 35,000 US troops is underway. Kunduz has experienced heavy combat in recent months. A joint ANA-NATO operation reportedly killed 130 militants last November.