Afghan Police Refuse to Patrol in Contested District

Police Deny Reports of Helmand Reinforcements

While the Afghan government talked up its “reinforcement” operations into Helmand Province’s Sangin District, captured last week by the Taliban, police in the district are continuing to refuse to leave their base, saying it’s not safe, and that the reinforcements never showed up.

The police confined themselves to base when the Taliban first showed up, and the Afghan government presented the fact that they hadn’t been routed out of the base as proof the district hadn’t totally fallen. It seems, however, that they’re just stuck there for the long haul.

Helmand Provincial Council Chief Karim Atal accused the Afghan government of reneging on promises of support for the district, and said they were not letting the police flee simply so they can claim they still have a presence there.

Atal said about 700 police were killed and 500 wounded in the past three months over four Helmand districts, as the Taliban tries to establish a deeper foothold in the province. Sangin is seen as the most valuable district, as the center of the opium trade.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of