Dog Day Kandahar Afternoon
More on yesterday’s buck-wild killing of Kandahar police chief Matiullah Qati. P.J. Tobia at True/Slant hears that the mysterious “U.S.-trained Afghan security guards” who killed Qati — along with nine of his men and the district’s senior criminal investigator — are actually Afghan soldiers “trained by US Special Forces to guard bases.” If so, I’m reminded of a shootout between Afghan soliders and police in Zormat a few weeks before I arrived at the eastern Afghan village last September. Members of the cavalry troop I embedded with in Zormat told me that soldiers harrassed some undercover cops at a checkpoint — this is nine months ago and my memory’s a bit cloudy, so bear with me — and disbelieved that their police identification was genuine. Both sides called in reinforcements and pretty soon there was a brief gunfight. I obviously can’t say that the Kandahar situation was like the Zormat one, but this is just to say that internecine Afghan security-force fighting isn’t unheard of.
Pamela Constable at The Washington Post in Kabul has more, and her stuff seems to back up Tobia’s. According to her account, the guards — whom an unnamed Kandahar source told her were “like special-operations forces” — burst into the Kandahar police station and demanded the release of a detained comrade who had been taken in on forgery charges. The police resisted and a shootout followed. Which company do these guards work for, and what’s its relationship to the U.S.-led coalition?