General Abdul Raqib Mubariz took office as the new police chief of the northern Balkh province on Thursday despite strong opposition by former provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor.
Mubariz was surrounded by commando forces who were deployed to have the situation under control after armed forces loyal to former Balkh governor Noor resisting the appointment of new police chief for the northern province.
After taking office, Mubariz said he was appointed to the post based on a presidential decree and that anyone who will take a hostile approach towards the system and government will face the response.
He said the security situation in Balkh is normal.
Hours before the gunfire and widespread shooting in Mazar-e-City against new Balkh police chief, Noor had called upon on all residents of the city to stay indoor and close their shops and markets “until further notice”.
He said the Presidential Palace has been “hatching plots” against them.
Earlier, Khoshal Sadat, senior deputy interior minister for security affairs in a Twitter post said that considering the “worsening security situation” in Balkh province, the president has appointed Abdul Raqib Mubariz as new provincial police chief.
“Unfortunately his predecessor Akram Sami is not willing to leave his post & accept the new appointment,” he said.
Reactions to Balkh Tensions
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass reacted to the violence in Balkh which began early in the day over the appointment of new provincial police chief.
Expressing “great” concerns over the tensions in Balkh, UNAMA called on all parties to “deescalate” tensions “immediately” and find a non-violent solution to the issue and “prioritize the safety and security of the city’s residents.”
U.S. envoy Bass, meanwhile, in a series of tweets said: “Green on green violence is unacceptable. The only ones who benefit from this violence are the Taliban.”
“The United States calls for calm in Mazar, Balkh, and surrounding areas. Afghan security forces are tasked with protecting the Afghan people, not fighting each other over political disputes, ” he tweeted.
Bass also called on all involved parties to “quickly and peacefully resolve this dispute in a way that gives Afghan citizens confidence in their leadership and strengthens security. Asserting authority by force of arms takes Afghanistan’s democracy backwards.”
“We call on leaders to tell military and police forces to stand down, and for political leaders on both sides of this dispute to put the Afghan people first,” he added.