A former Afghan legislator and District Governor has defected to the Taliban in the northern province of Sar-e-Pol, officials said on Thursday.

Qazi Abdul Hai served as a Senator during 2004-08 and was later made a District Governor in Sar-e-Pol.

Mr. Hai is believed to have defected to the Taliban with two bodyguards.

He is thought to be the highest ranking Afghan civilian official to have joined the Taliban, the BBC reported.

The Deputy Governor of Sar-e-Pol province said he did not know why Mr. Hai had defected.

The move came against the backdrop of foreign combat forces preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014 and ahead of elections.