Conflict & Justice

Taliban drug, kill 17 policemen in Afghanistan


In this photograph taken on December 18, 2012, Afghan Local Police (ALP) personnel patrol near their base in Goshta district of Nangarhar province. The Afghan Local Police, branded by some critics as an incompetent Taliban-linked militia, is one of the many security challenges facing the country as international troops withdraw.


SHAH Marai

Seventeen policemen have been killed in one of Afghanistan's deadliest single attacks on security forces.

The officers were shot dead at an Afghan Local Police post in Ghazni province, south of Kabul, early Wednesday morning.

They had been drugged during dinner and were shot at close range while they slept, police officials told the New York Times. The gunmen then set fire to a police car and fled.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, telling Agence France-Presse that the group's militants had also injured several people.

It's not clear how the attackers breached security at the police post. According to the Afghan officials cited by the Times, they may have been infiltrators posing as policemen themselves.

Two guards have been arrested and are being questioned for failing to stop the shooting, the governor of Ghazni, Musa Khan Akbarzada, told the BBC.

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There are also conflicting reports as to whether all the victims were policemen: Akbarzada said only 10 or 11 were officers and the rest civilians, though the provincial police chief told the Times that all were either police officers or recruits in training.

The Afghan Local Police, or ALP, was set up by US forces to provide an alternative to the national police force. It is supposed to enable recruits to defend thir own communities, but a string of insider attacks have raised questions about its vetting process.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for a bombing in Kabul the same day.

In that attack, a man slid under a bus full of Afghan soldiers and blew himself up, the Associated Press reported. The bomber was killed, and six soldiers and four civilians were wounded.

According to AFP, insurgents are increasingly targeting Afghan security forces, police and tribal elders rather than foreign troops.