KABUL: Clashes between Taliban militants and government forces have somewhat come to a halt near oil reservoirs in Afghanistan’s northern Sar-e-Pul province.
The Taliban still poses a threat in the area, provincial officials said on Thursday. More than 20 government security forces lost their lives when scores of heavily armed Taliban fighters staged a series of attacks on two oil wells in the province.
No government reinforcements have arrived despite promises by Kabul to flush out Taliban combatants entrenched near the area, local officials said.
“Reservoirs, vehicles and equipment worth millions of dollars are under threat,” Zabihullah Amani, a spokesman for the province’s governor, told Arab News. “The reservoirs remain with us, but the Taliban are able to launch more attacks.”
Both Mohammad Noor Rahmani, provincial chief council, and Amani said they did not know the reason for the government’s inaction against the Taliban’s growing presence in the province.
“While there has been no fighting since the Taliban attack, they can come at any moment and pose a continuous threat to oil facilities and resources in the area,” Rahmani told Arab News.
An Afghan and Chinese firm used to exploit oil reserves in the wells until six months ago, but stopped after the government objected.
Security officials in Kabul could not be reached for comment about the security situation and the concerns that have been expressed by provincial officials.
While Sar-e-Pul is a considerable distance away from the Taliban’s main bastion of support south and east of the country, the group has managed to make some in-road gains in northern areas in recent years and hundreds of locals have joined the group for different reasons.
Illegal armed groups have also joined Taliban ranks and infiltrate areas rich in minerals, such as lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone, and gold.
Minerals are a solid source of income for the Taliban in their war against Kabul and US-led troops stationed in Afghanistan.