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Plunder of natural riches: Illegal mining at peak in Badakhshan

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Badakhshan’s mining director Mohammad Akbar Anwari on Wednesday reported that armed groups controlled by influential people and terrorist outfits have sped up extraction of lapis lazuli and gold mines in Karan-o-Manjan and Raghistan districts of the province.

Expressing serious concerns over illegal extraction of the natural riches in the northern province, the mining and petroleum department’s director said that armed men, controlled by powerful figures, and militants have sped up the extraction of gold in Karan-o-Manjan and Raghistan districts.

“After lapis mines, the Raghistan district’s gold mines are the second biggest source of income for the Taliban, who are using the money to finance and equip themselves to fight security forces. If government does not free these mines this winter then it will be difficult to do so in summer,” TOLOnews quoted the director as saying.

Anwari stressed on elimination of the terrorists and disarming the armed groups to retake the mines in order to create jobs and increase revenues.

He said, “If Badakhshan’s gold and lapis mines are taken back from the Taliban and come under government control our income will increase and job opportunities will be provided for our youths.”

According to the deputy governor of Badakhshan, Gul Mohammad Bedar, Taliban insurgents control two mines in the province—a major source of income for the militant group to fund their subversive activities.

“Taliban has access to Raghistan’s gold mine. The extraction of that mine has been banned by the president but it is still being excavated illegally,” TOLOnews quoted Bedar.

On the other hand, the provincial police claimed that a large-scale operation would be launched soon to clear the areas from the insurgent group and retake control of gold and lapis lazuli mines.

Badakhshan police security head, Mohammad Nabi Bayan, told TOLOnews that the police force in the province has preparations and “soon we will conduct operations and remove the Taliban from the mines, which we will hand over to government.”

Last year in June, Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said that insecurity is an immense challenge against extraction of mines which paved the ground for illegal mining in various parts of the country.

The ministry said that due to insecurity Afghan government lose a huge amount of its domestic income in the area of illegal mining and smuggling of expensive minerals.

Powerful individuals and armed insurgents illegally extract the lapis lazuli mine in Badakhshan.

Earlier the Global Witness issued an investigation report about illegal mining of lapis lazuli in Karan-o-Manjan.

The report claimed that in the 2014 armed groups received $20 million from these mines which is equal to all incomes of Afghan government in sector of mining.

“Despite of prohibition of government the armed insurgent groups gained around $12 million from illegal mining of azure in these districts, in 2015. By empowering Taliban has increased their contribution as in the medial of 2016 Taliban received at least 50 percent of mining incomes,” said the investigation report.

 

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