18 die in Taliban village attack

ABOUT 100 Taliban fighters on motorcycles attacked a northern Afghan village working to join the government-sponsored local police program against the insurgency, killing a villager and 17 militants.

The evening attack sparked a gunfight that raged intensely for two hours and then continued with sporadic shooting until just before dawn on Wednesday, said Abdul Aziz Ghyrat today, the police chief for Jawzjan province.

“They targeted Abduraman village. The people there planned to join the local police and the Taliban had heard about this plan,” Ghyrat said.

The Afghan Local Police, or ALP, is a controversial new program through which villages can select a group of local men to be trained and equipped by the Afghan government to fight the Taliban.

Its American and Afghan backers argue that the force is needed to defend areas that are under threat from the Taliban but don’t have a strong formal police presence.

Critics, however, say the program essentially funds private militias.

The villagers in Abduraman fought to fend off the attack themselves until reinforcements arrived in the form of Afghan police, army and NATO air support, Ghyrat said.

At the end of the fighting, one villager and 17 militants were dead, he said. Among the dead militants was a local Taliban commander who had led bombings and attacks in the region, he added.

Meanwhile, NATO said a bomb killed a coalition service member in eastern Afghanistan yesterday.

The military alliance did not provide further details on the deceased, in line with a policy of waiting for national authorities to release the information.

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