Several members of the Afghan Local Police, trained and armed by the United States, drugged 17 of their fellow police officers before executing all of them, according to Afghan officials.
“The attackers poisoned the dinner food of the other officers, shot them at close range to ensure they were dead, stole their weapons and fled after setting a police vehicle on fire,” reports The New York Times.
Afghan officials said the perpetrators were members of the Taliban who had infiltrated the Afghan Local Police (ALP), waiting until after their training by the Americans to massacre their colleagues.
Indeed, the Taliban have taken responsibility for the attack, claiming it was retaliation for “atrocities and crimes” carried out by Afghan police forces against locals in the area.
“Locals in the area were tired of the atrocities and crimes of these [irregular militias] and their lives and property were not safe,” a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.
The ALP are basically armed militias, local gangs trained and supported by US Special Operations forces. These militias are the brainchild of Gen. David Petraeus who set them up to act as a bulwark against the Taliban.
But they can be just as brutal as the Taliban. “Many residents complain that the groups often operate outside the law, extort unofficial taxes from local residents and are prone to act on the basis of ethnic loyalties,” reports The New York Times.
These militias have been using US support to assert their authority and commit severe crimes against Afghan civilians. A Human Rights Watch report from last September “documents serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids” conducted by the ALP.
The fact that Obama uses taxpayer money to fund, arm, and train militias widely accused of human rights abuses is bad enough. But the policy is also sowing the seeds of further chaos and potential civil war ahead of a drawdown of US forces this year.