Jeremy Kelly in Kabul
From: Herald Sun [/*]
September 04, 2012 11:30PM[/*]A US$5000 bounty has been put on the head of the Afghan soldier who shot dead three Australian Diggers.
Some 10,000 posters and handbills are being distributed across Oruzgan Province, offering the reward for information leading to the capture of Sgt Hekmatullah.
The images, provided to the Herald Sun by Nato officials in Kabul, have been edited to remove the contact number for the public to call to provide information.
They are in raw "for approval" form, written in English, although sources in Oruzgan said they had seen similar posters written in Pashtu, the most common language in southern Afghanistan.
Literacy rates are very low in the area, but locals said everyone was aware what the posters were aiming to do.
After the shooting last week, Sgt Hekmatullah scaled a fence at the base and fled into the Baluchi valley.
Despite an intense manhunt, he has not been caught and Australian defence officials believe he has already escaped from the province.
Rewards posted by the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan are a common tactic to encourage people to rat out insurgents or rogue members of the Afghan security forces.
In April, US forces in eastern Paktika province were able to capture a wanted insurgent by plastering posters around a district offering a $100 reward.
Soon after, a man came to the base asking for the reward because, he told the Americans, he was the man on the poster. Once his identity was confirmed, the US soldiers arrested him.
In most cases, Afghans are hesitant to assist foreign forces, particularly in remote and restive areas, because of fears of retribution from Taliban insurgents.
Sgt Hekmatullah is accused of gunning down five Diggers at Patrol Base Wahib last Wednesday night.
Killed were Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Sapper James Martin, and Private Robert Poate.
Another two soldiers, who have not been named, were wounded.
The three three soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan in June with the 3RAR taskgroup.
Seven Australians have been killed by "insider attacks" committed by members of the Afghan National Army.
One of these attackers, who wounded three Australians last year, remains on the run and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
The search for Hekmatullah has increased tensions between Australian and Afghan authorities, who have accused SAS soldiers of being too heavy-handed with locals.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai took a swipe at the Australians, accusing them of conducting a deadly raid without approval of local security officials and saying it contravened a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on unilateral military operations in Afghanistan.
Of particular concern has been the arrest of a 20-year-old woman who was blindfolded and taken to the prison at the main Australian base in the provincial capital of Tarin Kowt.
"A woman taken by foreign forces is a highly sensitive issue that could create very serious problems," Mr Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said.
Local officials have also accused Australian forces of showing disprect to Afghan woman while searching houses.
Tags: Afghaistan, Occupation, vs, Resistance, , US, NATO, Taliban, Pakistan, terrorist, Punjabi, ISI,
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
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