Musa Qala District Police Chief Haji Abdul Wali, who is also known as “Koka.” Photo by Bill Ardolino/LWJ.
Haji Abdul “Koka” Wali, the chief of police for Musa Qala in Helmand province, was critically injured in yesterday’s Taliban suicide attack on the police district headquarters.
In Helmand province, a three-man suicide assault team attacked the district headquarters in Musa Qala. One of the suicide bombers rammed a car bomb into the perimeter of the district headquarters. The other two suicide bombers attempted to penetrate the breach but were gunned down by policemen. Four policemen were killed and four Afghans, including the district chief of police, were wounded, according to Pajhwok.
I interviewed Koka in July 2010, just as the Marines were solidifying their grip on the district center and pushing the lines of their security bubble north and south along the wadi. Despite some US complaints about the cops, the police were well-reviewed by US advisers overall, and Marine officers prized Koka as a relatively effective security partner. Nevertheless, it should be noted that two Marines, one Irish security contractor, and three detainees died in a jailbreak that August. A US military investigation determined that the cause of the escape was negligence by one of the police guards, though after the recent spate of “green on blue” attacks by Afghan security forces, I wonder.
In any case, that incident may help provide context for understanding how the Taliban managed to injure a VIP like Koka, as he was ensconced in the well-secured district police headquarters. This could be a setback for Musa Qala, which has stabilized significantly over the past two years. I’m unaware of the current competence of other Afghan police or Army leadership, but the police chief’s loss will likely create a significant leadership vacuum for anti-Taliban forces in the district.
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