The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has accidentally transferred around US$800,000 into the bank account of the Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan and is now asking for it to be returned, Eurasianet reported on December 20.

The mission, whose head has professed his allegiance to the deposed government and firm opposition to the Taliban, is reportedly declining the request.

According to Eurasianet, Dushanbe-based news website Avesta reported last week, citing sources at the embassy, that the money had been earmarked by former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government as funding for a school for refugee children in Tajikistan.  When the Taliban chased Ghani out of Kabul, however, the transfer did not go through.

The transfer of funds to the Dushanbe mission was later made all the same, Avesta reported. There is no clear indication the Taliban-run Finance Ministry knew of the money’s ultimate destination.

A Eurasianet source at the Embassy confirmed that a transfer had indeed been made, but they put the figure at somewhere closer to US$400,000.  The payment was made in September, the source said.

The Embassy source said the Taliban government wrote to them in November asking for the return of the money.  This request has been rebuffed.

“We have not built the school, but for four months now, teachers and Embassy staff have been getting their salary out of these funds.  All the money is being spent on the needs of the Embassy and of citizens of Afghanistan,” the source said.

The same person reportedly stated it would, in any case, be impossible to transfer money from Dushanbe to an entity that the host government in Tajikistan formally deems a terrorist organization.

The acting Afghanistan Ambassador to Tajikistan, Zahir Aghbar, has emerged as a vocal opponent to the Taliban regime and has spoken in support of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, or NRF.

Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, reported on December 2 that Tajik border guards had deported an Afghan female journalist and thirteen members of her family, including seven small children and her uncle who was former Afghan official, seeking asylum.  The journalist said they faced the danger of reprisals back in Afghanistan.

Radio Ozodi cited the expelled journalist as saying that Tajik border guards wept as they conveyed the group to Afghanistan.

“But the border guards said that if they didn’t follow orders, they would be imprisoned,” the journalist was cited as saying.