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Taleban Terrorizing Afghan Communities by Impersonating Police

19 April 2007

U.S. officials in Afghanistan say they have uncovered a new Taleban campaign to discredit the national police force and terrorize local Afghan communities. From Islamabad, VOA's Benjamin Sand reports that insurgents have been stockpiling counterfeit police uniforms and establishing illegal checkpoints in western Afghanistan.

U.S. military spokesman Major Christopher Belcher says Afghan and foreign forces in the country have confiscated more than 100 fabricated police uniforms and false identification cards in recent weeks.

"Over the last two weeks there have been multiple reports of Taleban fighters impersonating Afghan National Police officers and establishing illegal checkpoints to kidnap and terrorize local afghan civilians,"Belcher says.

He says on Wednesday, U.S. special forces and Afghan troops destroyed a makeshift checkpoint in the western province of Herat.

"Taleban fighters dressed in fabricated police uniforms established an illegal checkpoint, then attempted to ambush the combined patrol as they approached the checkpoint," Belcher said.

Belcher says at least three insurgents were killed and three others seriously wounded in a clash that followed.

Experts say they believe Taleban insurgents are specifically targeting Afghan civilians in order to instill fear and exert greater control over local communities.

The human rights group Amnesty International says attacks on civilians are widespread and systematic, including suicide bombings, abductions, and beheadings.

The report says victims have included women's rights activists, election candidates, religious leaders, government health workers, and local journalists.

Amnesty says the Taleban's military guidebook explicitly sanctions attacks on civilians.

The group points for example to the guidebook's 25th rule, which says teachers should be beaten and killed if they ignore warnings against teaching that is, in the Taleban's words, "contrary to the principles of Islam."

The Taleban and other Islamist insurgents consider educating girls un-Islamic, and say girls' schools are legitimate targets.

Amnesty International estimates that more than 180 schools have been burned in arson attacks in Afghanistan since 2005.

The Taleban has also ordered the death of anyone caught supporting the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan.

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