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    Helmand police under probe for links to insurgents

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): Officials have opened an investigation of police officers suspected of links to insurgents in the southern Helmand province, an official said on Sunday.

    The investigation -- part of a reform programme -- was launched after the recent killing of several policemen in "insider attacks" in Greshk district, Brig. Gen. Abdul Nabi Ilham, the provincial police chief, said.

    Gen. Ilham told a news conference in Lashkargah that five police officials were poisoned before being shot dead by their colleagues in Greshk before Eidul Adha.

    Three days earlier, four other policemen were killed and others went missing in the wake of an attack on their checkpoint in the same district. Gen. Ilham said he believed the missing personnel might have defected to the Taliban.

    He said three officials, including the district police chief, had been suspended and were under investigation for possible links to insurgents. 

    While acknowledging flaws in the force leadership, Gen. Ilham said: “The Taliban have been able to infiltrate police ranks as a result of a hasty recruitment process in the past.”

    Untrained and unqualified individuals had been deployed at some checkpoints, something that led to the so-called insider attacks, the police chief said, explaining that those recruited in the past year were properly investigated.

    Gen. Ilham ruled out the involvement of policemen in attacks on NATO-led soldiers, saying that the assailants wore police uniform. More than 50 ISAF troops have died in the green-on-blue attacks this year.