AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Chinese security forces are making regularly patrols in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan, breaching the international laws on borders, World Is One News (WION) reported.
In a report backed by exclusive pictures, WION said the Chinese security forces were patrolling the Little Pamir region which borders China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kashmir.
The pictures show Chinese-manufactured Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and Humvee-type vehicles patrolling deep inside Afghanistan.
Sources in the remote and sparsely-populated area told WION that Chinese forces were entering into the region through Tajikistan.
However, neither Beijing nor Kabul has commented on authenticity of the report.
WION claimed that it has tried to contact President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesperson but got no response despite repeated attempts. “The Chinese embassy in New Delhi also refused to comment.”
WION, the India-based news entity, also could not verify that whether the patrols were made by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or a private security firm.
According to the report, eyewitnesses in the area have accused the Chinese security forces of “direct involvement”. If the pictures are recent and taken inside Afghanistan, it would spark tension between Kabul and Beijing as patrols by Chinese forces is a serious breach of international laws.
Military analysts confirmed the images show Chinese-made military vehicles.
“The pictures show Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and Humvee-type vehicles. Both appear to be Chinese versions of common Western armored vehicles,” WION quoted Justin Bronk, a senior analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London.
“The Humvee-type vehicle is very identifiable as a Mengshi 4×4, also known as the Dongfeng EQ 2050. They have very distinctive markings on the doors which are absent from US-manufactured Humvees,” he said, adding that MRAPs are trickier to identify.
Dongfeng and Norinco are both military vehicle manufacturers based in China. According to Mr Bronk these vehicles are currently in active service in the PLA.
However, from the photographs, which WION claims to be taken deep inside Afghanistan, the military analysts could not confirm whether the vehicles belong to the PLA. But the report says that Afghan security forces are mostly equipped with US military hardware. Analysts suggest that Afghan National Army (ANA) could be replacing destroyed US provided military vehicles with cheaper Chinese models.
During his visit to Kabul, the chief of the General Staff of the China’s People Liberation Army, Gen. Fang Fenghui pledged to provide $72 million in military aid to Afghanistan. It is also believed that Afghan border police might be using Chinese-manufactured vehicles that were pledged.
“But sources inside the region say the PLA enter Little Pamir twice a month through Tajikistan. The troops reportedly stay in a local school in Bozai Gumbaz and are barred from speaking to local Afghan citizens,” claims WION’s report.
Control over its western frontier is also a key security concern for the land-focused Chinese military. In recent years, China has been nervous about the East Turkestan Islamic Movement’s activities in its western Xinjiang province and the wider region, the report said.
Kabul has an agreement with Beijing and Dushanbe clarifying borders in the Little Pamir region. Foreign ministers from the three countries signed the deal in Beijing in June 2012. But Afghanistan and China have no public agreement “to perform training exercises or war games on each other’s soil.”
By crossing into Afghanistan, the Chinese military or private security companies could, therefore, be in breach of international law.