Taliban Kills 20 Police in Helmand Ambush

Former Taliban Ally Turned District Chief Allegedly the Target

Admiral Mullen’s prediction that 2009 is going to be even worse in Afghanistan than the record-level violence of 2008 is off to a strong start, after one of the worst single attacks in months left 20 Afghan policemen and two insurgents dead.

The apparent target was Mullah Abdul Salaam, a tribal leader who abandoned his Taliban allies to become the district leader of Musa Qala in Afghanistan’s turbulent Helmand Province. His troubled reign became even more troubled today, when 20 Afghan police who were acting as his bodyguards were killed in an ambush by the Taliban.

The Helmand Province is one of the most violent in all of Afghanistan. The center of British military operations in the country, Britain is often blamed by allies for its failure to pacify the province. To that end the British government began an initiative to bribe tribal leaders into taking up arms against the Taliban. Today’s ambush suggests it has yet to pay meaningful dividends.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.