Afghan Army countering Taliban infiltration: Spokesman

Last Updated: Thursday, March 4, 2010 - 16:23

Kabul: Afghanistan`s Defence Ministry has averted various efforts by Taliban guerrillas trying to infiltrate into Army ranks, a ministry spokesman said on Thursday, but he conceded some failures.
A series of deadly attacks against NATO-led troops stationed in joint bases with Afghan forces has been carried out either by Taliban sympathisers or their infiltrators in Afghan Army and police ranks in recent years.

Afghan authorities have said several high-profile attacks by the Taliban, including an abortive strike against President Hamid Karzai nearly two years ago, were facilitated with the help of some security force members.

The attacks have raised concerns and questions among some in the West about the degree of Taliban infiltration in Afghan forces being trained and funded by the NATO as part of its fight against the resurgent militants.

A spokesman for Afghanistan`s Defence Ministry, Zahir Azimy, said the militants have tried frequently to make their way into the US-trained Afghan Army`s ranks.

But he told reporters procedures and filters put in place by the ministry`s intelligence and reconnaissance department have averted a number of such attempts.

"The enemy has made many efforts and if you look at the department`s documents ... many of them have been prevented in all units."

"There have been fewer cases of failure," he said, declining to give further details for security reasons.

In the deadliest such attack yet, an Afghan policeman killed five British soldiers in a training base in southern Halmand province last November.

In December, an Afghan soldier shot dead a US servicemember and wounded two Italian soldiers in a joint NATO and Afghan base in northwestern Badghis.

There have been several other attacks by men in Army and police uniforms against government and international forces.

Azimy also said the desertion rate among recruits was normal in the Afghan army, seen as the best hope for securing Afghanistan when and if the more than 110,000 foreign troops leave.
US-led troops with the help of Afghan factions overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001 after it refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders wanted by Washington for the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, March 4, 2010 - 16:23

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