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Nine Afghan local police killed by local policeman

March 30, 2012

Reports of the killing of nine Afghan police officers killed by a police colleague in Paktika province, south-eastern Afghanistan.

BBC, 30 March 2012: Nine Afghan police officers have been shot dead by a colleague in the eastern Paktika province, Afghan police sources have said.

The provincial police chief Dawlat Khan said the incident occurred on Friday, in Yayakhil district.The gunman, who had been assigned to a small command post, shot dead nine of his colleagues as they slept.  Among those killed was his commander and two sons. He then seized their weapons and a police vehicle and fled.

Police said that the motive for the killings was not known, but they said they suspected the Taliban were behind the attack.  “This man is a coward. What he did is part of the Taliban conspiracy,” Mr Khan said, according to AP news agency.  Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the group were linked to the attack.

“Last night, a mujahid fighter attacked a security check post. As a result, he killed nine puppet local policemen,” he said in a text message reportedly sent to AFP news agency.  The police officers were all part of the village police, also known as the Afghan Local Police, a local force that provides security in areas where the Afghan army and police cannot operate.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for this attack:

Taliban website, 30 March 2012: Infiltrator Mujahid kills 9 local militias

Zabihullah Mujahid

A Mujahid by having infiltrated the enemy ranks killed 9 puppet militias in Paktika province of Afghanistan on Friday.  According to the reports, Mujahid Sanaullah who had infiltrated police force few days ago turned his gun on the puppets this morning at about 9:00 a.m. local time, killing 9 militias including their commander Ramazan in Yahya Khel district of the province, a Mujahid official said, adding that Mujahid Sanaullah, after accomplishing his mission, loaded all the weapons and ammo of the enemy in a ranger vehicle and left the area safe and sound, who later joined Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate.

It seems to involve the Afghan Local Police – the poorly trained local militia substitutes in the absence of “proper” Afghan army or police units.  The ALP – its quality, capability, loyalty, etc – has been controversial since its inception.

Human Rights Watch paper: “Just don’t Call It a Militia: “…serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids by irregular armed groups in northern Kunduz province and the Afghan Local Police (ALP) force in Baghlan, Herat, and Uruzgan provinces. The Afghan government has failed to hold these forces to account, fostering future abuses and generating support for the Taliban and other opposition forces…

ALP in Paktika; how insurgencies end?

The story lacks detail but seems to suggest that the killer had been in touch with the Taliban before and the operation had been planned in advance.  The event seems to be almost a “textbook” defection and perhaps even harder to guard against than the ANSF attacks on ISAF.  I don’t want to cry out “worrying new trend”, but these sort of incidents are not uncommon – see this from the NYT in November 2010, this from Kapisa in August 2011 (again involving ALP).  I guess the “so what” is to suggest that these incidents – more so than the anti-ISAF attacks – may start to increase as ISAF and the West is increasingly perceived as weakening (and actually already seen to be winding down and withdrawing from the country’s periphery).  People (fighters in particular) want to make sure they end up on the right side.

There is really good report from the Rand Corporation that looks at “How insurgencies end“, from 2010.  It’s a big beast (some 240+ pages), but it is worth a flick through.  It argues that, if you were trying to measure who was winning an insurgency, one key indicator (treated with caution) is the level of desertions, defections and infiltrations.  Desertions can happen for many reasons, but I’m guessing the most important statistic would be defection rates.

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