A former police chief has defected to join the Taliban in Afghanistan's western Farah Province, the country's Interior Affairs Ministry said on May 10.
Major-General Abdul Jalil Bakhtwar, who served as Farah Province police chief between 2002 and 2004, had joined Taliban militants, the ministry said, expressing regret that the "retired general has joined with the opponents of peace of the Afghan people."
The ministry did not provide further details, though provincial council member Dadullah Qaneh told dpa that Bakhtwar had joined militants in the province's Bala Bulok district, which had been under Taliban control for years. The Taliban also confirmed to dpa that Bakhtwar had joined them, along with a number of companions, and had been "warmly welcomed."
Bakhtwar's son, Masoud, is currently serving as the deputy governor of Farah Province. Speaking to dpa, he firmly denied his father had defected to the Taliban, explaining the former police chief was an influential figure in the district and had only been visiting people there.
Bakhtwar's is thought to be the highest-ranking defection of an Afghan official during the country's 19-year conflict. Farah has been one of the most embattled provinces in Afghanistan in the past two years, where ongoing conflict has claimed the lives of countless Afghan security forces personnel.