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Insurgents retake key Kandahar areas: police chief


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Insurgents retake key Kandahar areas: police chief

Updated Mon. Sep. 3 2007 10:30 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff


Many of the gains Canadian troops fought so hard for in Afghanistan have been lost to Taliban insurgents in key areas in Kandahar province, an Afghan police chief told CTV News.

The admission supports a front-page New York Times article published Sunday that said the setback is "part of a bloody stalemate that has occurred between NATO troops and Taliban fighters across southern Afghanistan this summer."

CTV's Steve Chao, embedded with troops from Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment, said Canada's soldiers have found themselves trying to gain control, once again, of the same piece of land known as Panjwaii/Zhari they fought hard for and gained control of last fall, just west of Kandahar city.

The troops withdrew from parts of the area and left Afghan government forces to shoulder the defence duties. This past summer, insurgents were able to re-infiltrate the district and overrun police-held bases or checkpoints.

"In the last year I have lost control of many of my men," local Afghan police chief Col. Aka told CTV News through an interpreter. "They steal, they cheat. Those I trust have been killed -- 35 in the last two months. (Panjwaii/Zhari) is under Taliban control.

"If they continue beating us police, Kandahar city will soon be lost."

Aka said his police force -- poorly trained, lacking armoured vehicles and proper weapons and ammunition -- are easy targets for insurgents.

According to the New York Times, during an Aug. 7 insurgent attack the Afghan police called for help from Canadians. But the soldiers took several hours to arrive and in the meantime, 16 police officers were killed.

"Syed Aqa Saqib, Kandahar's provincial police chief, said Canadian and Afghan forces began withdrawing from four checkpoints and two small bases in Panjwaii in early July (2007)," reads the report.

Canadian troop withdrawals coincided with the rotation of soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment in August, with fresh troops from the Royal 22nd.

Chief Saqib told the paper that the pullback of troops left two police posts relatively unprotected.

"On Aug. 7, the Taliban attacked the posts simultaneously. For several hours, the police held them off and called for help from Canadian forces, (Chief Saqib) said, but none arrived. Sixteen policemen were killed," according to the report.

Canadian troops are building new, better protected checkposts where they hope to train Afghan police and create a competent force. But Canadian commanders told CTV News the growing distrust makes it challenging to work with the Afghan force.

Canadian soldiers are helping to train tens of thousands of Afghan army soldiers and police, with the aim of eventually withdrawing and leaving them in charge. But for now, there are too few of them, and inadequately equipped police are still expected to take on most of the security duties.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a different story when describing the Afghan forces to CTV's Question Period on Sunday, insisting Canadian soldiers in Kandahar have paved the way for "incredible progress."

"We're seeing an Afghan army and Afghan police force able to participate in a more fulsome way in the defence and security of their own country," MacKay said.


But the challenges facing both Canadians and Afghans in their fight against insurgents continued Monday in Panjwaii/Zhari, when Forward Operating Base Gundy Ghar came under mortar fire as Operation Balye Deweh was taking place. Canadian troops were too far away to respond.

The Canadians took the base back from the Taliban just last week in an operation in which two soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were killed in a mine blast.

Also Monday, Afghan police officers who were out of uniform accidentally fired on Canadian troops en route to participate in Operation Balye Deweh, resulting in an exchange of gunfire at a highway checkpoint.

No Canadian soldiers were injured, but there were minor injuries to an unspecified number of Afghan police.

With reports from CTV's Steve Chao and The Canadian Press
kilekaldar said:
...when Forward Operating Base Gundy Ghar came under mortar fire as Operation Balye Deweh was taking place. Canadian troops were too far away to respond...

Is somebody upstairs finally using their noodle and turning that hole into a FOB?

this is getting rediculous.....  we need to take an area, and Hold it instead trying to put our fingers into too many pies..... I noticed a real tendency on my roto, to try and keep putting troops everywhere instead of stationing them and holding ground.... its like putting a Cup into a pot of water.... sure the water leaves while the cup is in there, but as soon as you take the cup out......  we need to start putting and LEAVING the cups in the water.... Getting a few more NATO countries on Board couldnt hurt either.... we're doing alot of the dirty work over there.... (from what I saw in Kandahar, the hardest working Troops were Us, the USA, and the Brits... in kandahar province. most of the other nations had token echlons attached to the HQ sections.... still trying to figure out what the Jordanians Did there....)


+1 Tommy, fight for it, and HOLD it.

Moved all around on our ROTO too..
It has been recognized by ISAF that more effort needs to be put into training, equipping and installing the ANP. It is an important area of security that was missed. Armies can take ground, but police are needed to ensure and enforce the rule of law of the government.

The US (and us with others since) have been training the ANA since 2002. It has taken them that long to get where they are now.