Worsening Helmand security blamed on ‘ghost personnel’
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): The governor on Saturday blamed the deteriorating security situation in southern Helmand province on the existence of “ghost security personnel.”
Hayatullah Hayat claimed this a week after a large number security forces were killed and wounded during clashes with Taliban militants in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, Greshk and Nad Ali districts.
But Hayat said the main reason behind insecurity in the province was the existence of “ghost personnel” in the police and army ranks.
He said the strength of the Afghan National Army stationed in Helmand was 18,000, but 40 percent of them were not available for duty. He said the same problem existed in the police force and legal action would be taken in this regard.
As an example, the governor said: “450 local police personnel are paid salaries in Marja district, but 176 of them are at their homes in Lashkargah and are receiving salaries.”
The governor said he had started efforts to resolve the issue and would sack officials creating such issues.
Provincial council deputy chief Abdul Majeed Akhunzada also said ‘ghost personnel’ existed in security forces in Helmand.
He said the number of security forces in Helmand reached 32,000, but 12,000 to 15,000 personnel appeared for duty.
About the clashes in Marja, Nad Ali and Greshk districts, the governor said 69 Taliban militants were killed and 60 others injured during last night operations and airstrikes.
He said military operations were underway in various parts of the province and all plans of the rebels had been frustrated.
The Taliban also confirmed the clashes. Their spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said 24 security personnel were killed and several others were wounded during last night clashes in Marja and Nawa districts. He said the fighters suffered no casualties during the clashes.
The issue of ‘ghost security personnel’ in Helmand had also been raised previously and the central government sent a delegation to investigate the issue, but the media is yet to be shared any information about the delegation’s findings.
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