News - Afghanistan
An Afghan National Army soldier has been caught on camera switching sides and joining the Taliban in Dand-e-Ghori area in Pul-e-Khumri, Baghlan province.
In footage received by TOLOnews, the soldier receives a warm welcome from Taliban fighters in the area – where officials believe that the militant group has a huge presence.
"Hizbullah son of Mohammad Akbar resident of Laghman [province] who served in the ANA ranks for past 11 months, today [Wednesday] joined Mujahideen along with his US-made PK gun," a Taliban member says after welcoming the former soldier.
Security officials at the 3rd Brigade of the 209th Shaheen Corps of the ANA base confirmed the soldier switched allegiance to the Taliban and said he had been part of the 6th battalion of the ANA troops in Samangan province.
The officials said it appeared as if the soldier joined the Taliban voluntarily.
"A few days ago, the weather was bad and the solider lost his way and went to the area under control of the Taliban," said Ghulam Farooq Ahmadi, the Commander of the 3rd Brigade of 209th Shaheen Corps.
Meanwhile, Baghlan Police Chief Abdul Rashid Bashir said he cannot confirm the issue, but said he is concerned about the presence of Taliban fighters in Dand-e-Ghori.
"We are not in a position to confirm the footage, but yes the soldier who joined the Taliban was from Kunduz [province] who came to Dand-e-Ghori – an area where the Taliban has more presence," said Abdul Rashid Bashir Baghlan acting Police Chief.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has not commented.
According to a controversial agreement signed last year between the Ministry of Tribal and Border Affairs and the tribal elders in Dand-e-Ghori, the locals agreed to not allow activity of any militant group or security forces in their area, but now reports indicate that the area has turned into a safe haven for the rebels.