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‘Ansarullah’ opens new Pandora’s Box; Pro-Taliban Tajik militants deploy along border stronghold

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KABUL: A 200-strong group of pro-Taliban Tajikistan militants are now controlling areas along Afghan-Tajik border after the Taliban afforded them control of the key strategic border region in recent days, according to officials on Wednesday.

Weeks after capturing key strategic areas and security outposts, Tajik authorities have said, Ansarullah group consisting of 200 Tajik nationals under Taliban umbrella have been deployed in several border districts between Afghanistan and Tajikistan raising the Taliban flag and furthering their cause.

The group, assumedly run by Mohammad Sharifov, is recruiting fighters from Tajikistan.

Ansarullah extremist group have taken part in Taliban offensives in Badakhshan where the militant group captured large swaths of territory in recent months. Tajik fighters in Badakhshan caught the Afghan government’s attention last year when the insurgents brutally killed a group of f Afghan Army soldiers after the fall of the Maimay district to the Taliban.

Intensity of clashes in northern and northeastern Afghanistan has increased the Taliban links with some banned extremist groups. But Ansarullah will open Pandora’s Box for Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries as the group was founded by a rogue former Tajik opposition commander Amriddin Tabarov a decade ago with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the government in Dushanbe.

Fearing the fallout of this new development, Tajikistan has deployed troops along its southern border with Afghanistan. Moreover, Afghan authorities had earlier claimed that a group of militants from Tajikistan played a major role in the Taliban’s capture of an Afghan district months ago.

Russia has also drafted in troops across Afghanistan border as Kremlin sees Taliban’s rise as an existential threat to its allies in Central Asia which could only be circumvented by fortifying their sagging border defences.

Ansarullah, since its creation, has had links with other militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.

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