AT News Report
KABUL: Two major natural reserves (gold and lapis lazuli) are in hands of Taliban militants in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, provincial council confirmed Saturday.
Bashir Samim, head of the council said that the Lapis Lazuli mine is located in Keran wa Monjan, while the gold mine is in the Raghestan districts, both under Taliban control.
He added that Pakistani experts are allowed by the insurgents to exploit the mines.
“Two main sources are supporting Taliban financially, these are the lapis lazuli and gold mines. Both are in the hands of Taliban who use them for their war,” said Samim.
Saifoddin Sayees, head of the civil society in Badakhshan, said the government does not intend to take back the areas where the reserves are located.
“Falling of Badakhshan’s economic geography to Taliban is a matter of big concern for the civil society and people of the province, because these mines can support Taliban’s war fronts either inside Badakhshan or out of the province and keep their war machine moving,” Sayees said.
Provincial Spokesman, Nek Mohammad Nazari, however, said that Taliban were only able to exploit small mines, not the big gold and lapis lazuli.
He said the local government was working on an operational plan to push the militants back from the mine areas.
Meanwhile, provincial police chief, Assadollah Mohammadi, said he had ordered police to prevent illegal extractions of mines in the government-controlled areas.
About 22 natural reserves are registered in Badakhshan, but none of them is under government control. Taliban or illegal armed groups exploit the mines and smuggle them to Pakistan or other neighboring countries.