Sunday, February 17, 2008

Afghan police as kidnappers?

We have blogged several times on the nature of the Afghan National Police (ANP). To wit:

Civilians in Musa Qala (a Taliban-held town for about a year until retaken by Western forces in December of 2007) balked at the idea of the government of Afghanistan allowing the ANP to police their area.

In November in Kandahar province, ten police officers were arrested for allegedly stealing money from a private citizen.

Also in November, the police arrested blasphemer Ghaus Zalmai and detained several Afghan journalists.

Now come allegations that police officials may be involved in the increase in child abductions:

KANDAHAR CITY, Afghanistan -- They said they would slaughter the boy. Cut him into pieces, and then shoot him. "We mean business," the kidnappers warned, in terse phone calls to the child's father.

Somewhere nearby, crouched inside a small metal cage, was nine-year-old Abdul Walid Zalal. ...

[A] perceived spike in the number of child kidnappings this year has local Afghans openly criticizing police and government officials who, they allege, aren't attempting to solve the crimes, let alone prevent them.

Some, like Zalal's father, suspect police officers could be working with kidnappers.

"I approached the police when my boy was taken," says Abdul Habib Malal, "and the chief himself told me to pay off the kidnappers. A couple of times I was even sitting with the police chief when the kidnappers called to tell me they were going to cut off the boy's leg or ears. The police chief just sat there."

Malal felt he had no choice but to negotiate with the kidnappers. He was able to reduce the price of his son's freedom but does not wish the final sum made public. ...

[Kandahar's provincial police chief] insisted that his officers are "providing the necessary security for the family of the child recently abducted."

Nonsense, says Malal. "The police have been of no help whatsoever. I believe they may have been involved." He has phone numbers for mobile devices that the kidnappers used to call him. The Kandahar police, he says, have shown no interest in looking at them. "It's not rocket science. The authorities can trace where these calls were made." (link)

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