Findings by a parliamentary delegation that recently visited the western Farah province suggest that weapons, munitions, and equipment of Afghan security and defense forces are widely retailed in Taliban black markets, locally known as Friday markets, in different districts of the province.
The province started to become insecure and subject to huge Taliban offensives three years ago. Since then, the militants have inflected significant casualties on the Afghan defense and security forces.
As the Taliban militants captured most parts of the provincial capital, Farah city, in a major offensive they launched in May 2018, lack of weapons and ammunition were reported a major reason behind high casualty tolls and defeat of the Afghan forces against the Taliban.
Abdul Sattar Hussaini, head of the parliamentary delegation, described retail of the weapons of Afghan forces in Taliban’s black markets as “disastrous” but did not provide exact figure about the amount of military equipment seized by the Taliban. “Many weapons and munition had been seized by the Taliban four months ago,” he said.
According to Mr. Hussaini, Afghan military equipment have been sold during the tenure of Ghulam Mahiuddin Khairkhwa, former police chief of Farah province. “Mahiuddin was a close man to Khoshal Sadat—a former deputy of the Ministry of Interior who was dismissed very recently. Weapons have been sold, security outposts and bases have been left for the enemies, foods and clothes of soldiers have been wasted, ammunition have been sold from the police department, and more than 250 people (security forces) have been martyred,” he claimed.
Mr. Hussaini, who represents Farah province in the parliament, went on to reveal that 1,500 different weapons of Afghan security forces have also been seized by the Taliban during the tenure of Rahmatullah Sediqi as police chief of Farah province—before appointment of Mr. Khairkhwa as his replacement.
Both former local security officials have yet to comment regarding the findings and claims made by the parliamentary delegation against them.
According to the findings of the delegation, no military equipment has been seized by the Taliban during past four months, after Fazl Ahmad Sarwari and Samad Shams were appointed as police chief and deputy police chief of the province.
Farah police department did not comment despite repeated requests by Kabul Now. Masoud Bakhtawar, deputy governor of the province, however, noted that no one could turn a blind eye on Taliban’s seizure of the weapons of Afghan security forces.
Friday markets of Taliban
Seizing weapons, munitions, and equipment of Afghan security and defense forces, the Taliban have significantly dragged on their militancy in Farah province over past four years. According to the parliamentary delegation head, MP Abdul Sattar Hussaini, the militants sell military equipment of government forces in cheaper prices in their Friday markets.
Most of the weaponry being retailed in Friday markets of Khak-e-Safid and Bakwa districts of Farah province belong to government forces, mainly to police forces.
Khair Mohammad Noorzai, a member of Farah provincial council, told Kabul Now that the Taliban’s biggest Friday market is located in Dewar Surkh village of Khak-e-Safid district. Naming two more black markets run by the Taliban in the province, he said that every types of weaponry owned by Afghan forces are available in the markets. “The Taliban are even selling and buying Ranger and Humvees vehicles,” he claimed.
Although representatives of the province have called for destruction of the Friday markets run by the Taliban, the government express inability to do so due to presence of civilians in the markets. “The Taliban own Friday markets in all districts they have control over. Ordinary people have presence in the Friday markets, therefore, we cannot destroy the whole market for those weapons and munitions,” said the deputy governor, Farid Bakhtawar.
The parliamentary delegation criticize presence of the Taliban intruders in the ranks of Afghan defense and security forces, calling it one of the sources that facilitates Taliban accessibility to the weapons and munition of government forces.
The Ministry of Interior did not respond to Kabul Now’s call for providing clarification over the issue.
Lack of food and munitions for security forces
According to the parliamentary delegation, Afghan security forces are facing lack of sufficient troops, warfare, and food. The delegation has asked the MoD to supply police forces assigned in the province with winter clothing and firewood. It further reveals that the soldiers are currently providing their firewood on their personal expenses.
Meanwhile, Bakhtawar says they will put their utmost efforts to resolve lack of food supply for security forces in the province.
Situated in western part of the country, Farah is now one of Afghanistan’s most volatile provinces where the Taliban maintain an active presence. According to representatives of the province, Shibkoh, Gulistan, Bakwa, and Khak-e-Safid districts of Farah are currently under the Taliban control.
Retail of weapons and munitions of Afghan security forces which often ended up to be purchased and used by the Taliban was reported previously as well. According to an investigative report published by Payk Investigative Journalism Center, more than 12,000 light weapons and over 1,100 military vehicles, including armored vehicles, are missing from police department of the southern Helmand province, a neighboring province of Farah.
The report has also revealed that more than 100 top and mid-level security officials of the province have been introduced to justice and judicial organs in connection to the missing military equipment.