Afghanistan: Soldiers Flee To Tajikistan After Militant Clashes
The troops retreated over the border to “save their own lives”, according to a statement by Tajikistan’s border guard.
The surge coincides with the end of Nato’s 20-year military mission.
The vast majority of remaining foreign forces in Afghanistan have been withdrawn ahead of a September deadline. There are concerns that the Afghan military, who were supposed to take over security in the country, will collapse.
But the Taliban did not agree to stop fighting Afghan forces, and now reportedly control about a third of the country.
The latest group of Afghan troops sought refuge early on Monday morning after fighting with militants during the night, Tajikistan’s National Security Committee said in a statement that was reported by the Tajik state-run news agency Khovar.
“The Taliban cut off all the roads and these people had nowhere to go but to cross the border,” one senior Afghan official told Reuters on Monday.
Zabihullah Atiq, a parliamentarian from Badakhshan, said the troops had used various routes to flee.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insists that the country’s security forces are fully capable of keeping insurgents at bay, but there have also been reports of more soldiers seeking refuge in Pakistan and Uzbekistan to escape the fighting.
Neighbouring countries, including those in central Asia, are bracing themselves for a potential influx of refugees if the fighting continues to intensify.
For the people of Afghanistan, it is a worrying time, says Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s chief international correspondent. The Taliban, who have been accused of various human rights and cultural abuses, support Islamic punishments – such as public executions of convicted murderers – as well as banning television, music and cinema, and disapproving of girls over 10 going to school.
“They are uncertain about where their country is heading, uncertain about their own village or town or city, and uncertain about their own lives and the futures of their families,” she said.
There are also growing concerns about how to protect diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.
Russia on Monday announced that it had temporarily suspended operations at its consulate in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif because of the deteriorating security situation. Envoy Zamir Kabulov said Afghan troops had surrendered too many districts, making the situation unstable.
Turkey and Iran have also suspended operations in the city, moving diplomats to Kabul, according to reports.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to chair a National Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in the country.
He called on both the Afghan government and the Taliban to “sit down and talk as soon as possible for peace”.