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Poor air support, mismanagement resulted high casualties among ANA troops in Badakhshan clash: Karimi

AT-KABUL: As insecurity mounts in different parts of the country, particularly the northeastern  Badakhshan province, the Internal Security and Defense Commission of the Wolesi Jirga on Tuesday held an extraordinary session with high ranking security officials including the Interior Minister, the Chief of Army Staff and the chief of National Directorate of Security (NDS).

During the session, the security officials said poor air support and mismanagement of the Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel had resulted in high casualties among security troops in Badakhshan’s Jurm district clashes.

Hinting at the recent firefight in Badakhshan, the Chief of Army Staff, Sher Mohammad Karimi, told lawmakers that around 250 militants wearing black clothes attacked ANA check posts and captured them after killing of some of the soldiers.

He said the commanders of the ANA battalions were on unofficial leave when the attack occurred and that’s why the troops were faced with mismanagement and their reaction was weak which resulted in more casualties among them.

He added that both the commanders have been arrested for incompetence and reluctance in Jurm clash. “Locals have cooperated with militants in their conflicts with the security forces in Wardooj and Jurm districts,” Karimi said.

However, a number of lawmakers rejected the remarks.

Militants attacked ANA check posts in Jurm district on Friday, leaving nine soldiers dead and seven others wounded. Nearly eight troops went missing in the fight.

At least 27 of the attackers were killed in the clashes which continued until Sunday—periodically. The Defense Ministry in a recent statement said that 33 soldiers were killed, injured and went missing following the attacks.

Though, an MP from Parwan, Almas Zahid, said that around 62 ANA soldiers of a battalion of 87 personnel have been killed or gone missing in the clashes.

Head of the provincial council in Badakhshan has said that the check posts were still under control of militants, adding that a military operation will be launched to retake control of the posts.

In the meantime, Karimi told MPs that the ANA does not have the ability to conduct several military operations at a time. He said air facilities are very rare in the ministry as they have only one chopper for the northern zone, which is nothing in compare with threats by militants. “We are faced with lots of problems in air force. There are four Mi-35 helicopters—two for Kandahar and Helmand and two for the capital city and northern zone. We were obliged to install machine gun on a Mi-17 chopper—which is for passengers—and we used it in war against militants,” he added.

Karimi also hinted at lack of coordination among ANA soldiers and lieutenants, and said they are faced with lots of problems in this regard.

The Interior Minister, Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi, told MPs that militants had taken the benefit of security forces’ weakness in the province at the time, adding that the government wanted to clear the area of militants but insurgents attacked the area ahead of the military operations. “Military operations in Waziristan pushed militants to flee to this side of the Durand Line and hide in northeastern provinces and want to infiltrate there,” he added.

He also said that at least 11 provinces are under serious security threat, nine others under medium security threat, and security situation is normal in 14 provinces. Ulumi said security threats in Badakhshan were kicked off in winter season. “Around 20 abducted foreigners were rescued and handed over to the NDS during past months” he said.

However, lawmakers criticized activities of the three security agencies—Defense and Interior ministries and the NDS—and said they have been reluctant to better manage the clashes in Badakhshan and elsewhere in the country in recent months.

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