May 11, 2020

Retired Afghan police chief defects to Taliban
A former Afghan police chief has switched sides to join the Taliban in what is thought to be one of the most senior defections to the insurgents yet. Gen Abdul Jalil Bakhtawar joined his former enemies in a move which has split him from his son who remains a senior local government official. Film of the former police chief of Farah province in south West Afghanistan joining the Taliban was released as he was congratulated by militants. Surrounded by flags, Gen Bakhtawar said: “This is a very happy occasion, and God willing, others will also be encouraged,” the New York Times reported. The country's ministry of interior said it regretted the general's decision to join “the enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” and that he had “chosen violence over a life of dignity,” said Tariq Aryan, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry. The country's vice president, Amrullah Saleh, called him a thug and self-proclaimed general. The militants constantly seek to coax government forces into their ranks and often have success getting lowly-paid troops to switch sides from checkpoints and isolated bases in contested territory. Gen Bakhtawar's defection represents a coup because he not only fought the Taliban for years, but also leads a prominent political family in Farah. One of his sons, Massoud Bakhtawar, is the deputy governor of Farah province. Another son, Farid Bakhtawar, was head of the provincial council until he was killed in a helicopter crash 18 months ago. Meanwhile, the Afghan security forces arrested three senior South Asia Islamic State members including the group's regional leader, the Afghan government said on Monday. The militant group's head of South Asia, Abu Omar Khorasani, was arrested in Kabul alongside the group's spy chief and public relations officer, the Afghan security agency said.
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