Foreign troops kill four Afghan police – government

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NATO-led troops killed four Afghan policemen in the volatile southern province of Kandahar and a firefight broke out between Polish soldiers and Afghan police in the unstable central Ghazni province, said the interior ministry and police.

The incidents highlight the pressure on both foreign troops and Afghan forces as they fight a strengthening insurgency, while ramping up Afghan police and army numbers before they take full security control of the country by the end of 2014.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is helping train thousands of Afghans for the police and army, and there is often mistrust between the two sides as well as stress created by such a tight schedule, Reuters reports.

The interior ministry said in a statement that foreign forces killed four Afghan policemen and wounded two in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban, on Tuesday night. No further details were available.

An ISAF spokesman said the incident was being jointly investigated by ISAF and Afghan forces.

In central Ghazni province, near a base for a foreign military-civilian reconstruction team, a two-hour firefight broke out between Polish soldiers and Afghan police, said Ghazni police chief Delawar Zahid.

He said the Polish soldiers had wanted to inspect a police checkpoint and “the police cautioned them not to come close, but they did not stop.” Zahid said one Polish soldier was injured.

The ISAF spokesman said there had been a 15-minute exchange of small arms fire between foreign troops and Afghan police. He said their initial reports indicated the first shots came from an Afghan police checkpoint.
“The precise circumstances that led to this exchange are being assessed,” he said.

Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001, with high levels of foreign troop deaths and record civilian casualties during the first six months of 2011.

A NATO service member was killed in a shooting by a man dressed as an Afghan policeman last week, latest in a string of apparent “rogue” killings by Afghan police and soldiers, or by insurgent infiltrators.

Rapid recruitment into the Afghan security forces, which will be boosted to at least 305,000 by 2011, has raised fears the Taliban have infiltrated sympathisers into the Afghan police and army.

Afghan authorities began tighter vetting of recruits after a renegade soldier killed five British troops in November 2009, but there have still been dozens of people killed in such incidents since then.



Afghan security forces have been hit even harder than foreign troops. A total of 1,292 Afghan police and 821 Afghan soldiers were killed last year, according to the Afghan government.