The Afghan Taliban kidnapped more than 40 Afghan police recruits during an ambush in the terrorist haven of Kunar province.
Both Afghan officials and the Taliban confirmed that more than 40 potential police recruits were captured earlier today in the district of Chara Dara in Kunar.
The Taliban, in a statement released on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad, claimed that “as many as 50 policemen” were abducted as they traveled from the neighboring province of Nuristan. The Taliban claimed the men were “captured with the documents revealing their posts.” The Taliban are asking for the release of 12 of their fighters from prison in exchange for the Afghan men, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.
But General Khalilullah Ziya, the chief of police for Kunar province, said that 40 young Afghan men were captured by the Taliban as they traveled back to Nuristan from the police recruitment center in the provincial capital of Asadabad. The Afghans were not policemen, as they had been rejected at the recruiting station, Ziya told TOLOnews.
Less than two months ago, the Taliban kidnapped another large group of Afghans in Kunar. On Jan. 31, the Taliban captured 21 pro-government tribal leaders in Kunar, and threatened to execute them if family members did not stop working for the government and security forces. Fourteen of the tribesmen were subsequently released.
Kunar is the second-most violent province in Afghanistan, according to data released by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office. In 2010, there were 1,467 attacks in Kunar, compared to 1,540 recorded attacks in Ghazni, 1,387 attacks in Helmand, and 1,162 attacks in Kandahar.
Since the pullout of US and Afghan troops from remote outposts in Kunar’s Korengal Valley and the Kamdish district in Nuristan that began in late 2009, several districts in the provinces of Nuristan have been contested. US forces also have withdrawn from the Pech Valley in mid-February of this year, and have turned over security to Afghan forces. Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, and other allied terror groups are known to have moved into Kunar and Nuristan due to the security vacuum, and have expanded attacks throughout the region.
Kunar province is a known sanctuary for al Qaeda and allied terror groups. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Pech, Shaikal Shate, Sarkani, Dangam, Asmar, Asadabad, Shigal, and Marawana; or eight of Kunar’s 15 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.
A senior al Qaeda commander named Qari Zia Rahman operates in Kunar and Nuristan, and commands military forces on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border. Qari Zia has also established suicide training camps for women, and has used female suicide bombers on both sides of the border. Over the past year, Qari Zai has been the target of several ISAF and Afghan special operations raids.
For more information on Qari Zia Rahman, see LWJ reports, Al Qaeda leader kidnaps 21 Afghan tribal leaders in Kunar, and US hunts wanted Taliban and al Qaeda commander in Kunar.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.