Afghan officials are warning that Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, is in danger of a Taliban incursion. Security in the northern province continues to worsen as Afghan forces have abandoned some bases and outposts around the city.
Naqibullah Fayiq, the governor of Faryab, said that “The majority of areas [in Faryab province] are under control of the Taliban,” and that the Taliban is poised on the outskirts of Maimana, TOLONews reported.
Fayiq offered a stinging rebuke of Afghan officials, who he claims put on a show for “the delegation” (presumably other officials from Kabul) and opened the roads to Maimana to show Afghan President Arshaf Ghani that the security situation in the province is positive.
“I want to mention that sadly the delegation which visits here (Faryab), they (local officials) try to open routes to make a report for the president via a video conference to show that the roads are open. But when they leave Maimana in their helicopters, the roads are closed once again,” he said, according to TOLONews. “This leaves us and the people prone to security threats and in an under-siege situation.”
Fayiq’s warning about the situation in Maimana occurred as Afghan forces suffered a defeat in Ghormach district. Afghan troops withdrew from the besieged district center earlier this week and were ambushed by the Taliban on the way out. More than 20 Afghan soldiers were reportedly killed in the attack.
Afghan troops also “left their bases in the Qaisar-Almar and Maimana-Jawzjan highways and have stationed themselves at other bases in district centers in the last few days,” local Afghan officials told TOLONews.
Afghan military officers said there are no problems and that the abandonment of the bases was all part of plan.
“Outposts were in bad condition. They (the soldiers) were ordered to leave the bases to receive better training and equipment,” General Amanullah Mobib, the Commander of 209 Shaheen Army Corps claimed.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense claimed that the troops in Faryab evacuated their bases as part of “the four-year security plan which will become a six-year plan … there is no other issue.”
Taliban threatens at least nine provinces
Maimana is one of seven provincial capitals that were identified in May by the Afghan Ministry of Defense as being under direct Taliban threat. The others are Farah City, Faizabad in Badakhshan, Ghazni City, Tarin Kot in Uruzgan, Kunduz City, and Pul-i-Khumri in Baghlan. The Taliban briefly overran Farah and Ghazni Cities in May and August, respectively.
Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, while not on that list, is also threatened by the Taliban. Just this week, it was disclosed that Afghan forces are battling to clear the Taliban from Police District 4 within the provincial capital. The Taliban has controlled this area of Lashkar Gah for nearly two years.
Afghan officials ware beginning to raise warning flags that the Taliban is planning to attack Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktia. A member of Paktia provincial council reportedly said “almost all the districts of the province are under threat.”
The Taliban has taken advantage of its strength in Afghanistan’s rural areas as well as its safe havens inside Pakistan to threaten Afghanistan’s major population centers.