An Afghan police commander and 13
junior officers have joined the Taliban in the western Afghan province of Farah,
in what correspondents say could be the biggest defection by police.
They say the commander, named as Mirwais, was in charge of a 20-man
checkpoint when he defected on Sunday.
The men are said to have taken heavy weaponry, radios and police vehicles
including US-made armoured Humvees.
Farah is one of the most insecure areas in the relatively peaceful west.
The commander was based in Shewan village in the district of Bala Bulak,
which was until recently considered a Taliban stronghold.
The insurgents were driven out of the area following a series of operations
carried out by Afghan security forces. But local officials say insurgents have
regrouped in the area recently. Rarely
Police and intelligence officials deployed in the province said the commander
poisoned seven policemen in his charge who had refused to defect along with him.
"Mirwais and his policemen had joined the force nearly two and half years
ago. Mirwais had fought the insurgents in this area for quite some time," an
Afghan intelligence official in the region told the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in
"Long before he defected, he must have been passing intelligence and crucial
information to the insurgents," the official said.
Officials said that the equipment taken by the defectors - rocket-propelled
grenades, heavy machine guns, radios and police vehicles, including two Humvees
- will be a major boost to the Taliban in the area.
Our correspondent says this is believed to be the biggest police defection to
the insurgents. Over the past few years similar incidents have taken place on a
much smaller scale in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul,
Uruzgan and in Ghor, Farah, Badghis and Herat in the west.
Such incidents have rarely been reported in the Afghan media, our
Once relatively peaceful, Farah has seen increasing levels of violence. The
Taliban and other insurgent groups are active in many districts, particularly
those close to the provincial capital, which has witnessed recent attacks.
The province has a strategic position, bordering Iran, and the key
Kandahar-Herat highway passes through Farah.
|Liveleak on Facebook|