Monday, November 9, 2009

Cop who killed 5 UK soldiers 'a hero' say locals

The recent killing of five British troops at the hands of an Afghan police officer has set the UK reeling, prompting wider calls for the pull-out of troops from Afghanistan. Once again, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting is the only outlet able (or willing) to put reporters on the ground to relate the story from the local point of view:

What Drove Afghan Policeman to Kill UK Troops?
By Aziz Ahmad Tassal and Mohammad Ilyas Dayee

LASHKAR GAH, Nov 5 (IWPR) - Western and Afghan forces try to find out why an otherwise normal young man snapped and killed men he had worked with for months.

The young man’s name was Gulbuddin and he came from Musa Qala, in the northern part of Helmand. He was big and strong with a reputation for fierceness in fighting the Taleban. Gulbuddin was a graduate of the police academy, had served honourably for two years in the Afghan National Police in Helmand, and his commander describes him as trustworthy.

That was until the afternoon of November 3, when he suddenly took a machine gun and mowed down his British colleagues, killing five and wounding six others. Two Afghan police were also injured in the incident...

Some people in Helmand believe that Gulbuddin belonged to the Taleban and had infiltrated the police. Others think that he may have lost friends or family in the bombardments by foreign forces that have ratcheted up tensions between Afghans and western forces, especially in the south.

“Gulbuddin was a soldier like me,” said Khairullah, one of the wounded policemen. “He did not have psychological problems, and he was not a drug addict. He was a disciplined policeman. Nobody knows why it happened." ...

Gulbuddin fled the checkpoint where the shooting took place and a Taleban commander said that Gulbuddin was with them...

But most Helmandis think it is unlikely that the Taleban will give him up voluntarily.

“That boy is a hero,” said Khial Mohammad, a resident of Greshk. “The Taleban will treasure him like a flower.” ...

[S]ome Helmandis welcomed the news of British losses.

“(Gulbuddin) is a good boy, and the parents that bore him should be proud,” said Gul Agha, a resident of Greshk. “He should be given a medal. Let the foreigners know the pain of losing your own people. Let them know how death smells.”

“Let them know how tragic is the death of a son, a father or a brother,” said Abdul Majid, another resident. “Just last night they bombed innocent people in Babaji. Didn’t they have fathers and mothers? They were just farmers, threshing corn, and they were killed on the spot. All their young sons are dead. I am sure they would welcome that soldier as a hero.” ... (link)
Note that the residents who called the turncoat a hero apparently did so under their own names, rather than declining to be named, as did others quoted for the article.

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