Police, Locals Implicated In Attack
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A deadly attack on a U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan in July was executed with the support of some local police and government leaders, as well as villagers, according to an internal U.S. military report.
The report, released yesterday, recommended that the district's Afghan police chief and governor be replaced, if not arrested and tried for committing crimes against the government. And it said that the incident underscores repeated problems in the volatile mountain region with the local population offering "passive and active support" to the enemy, which also has infiltrated the country's security forces.
Nine U.S. troops were killed in the attack, which was launched just before midnight July 12 by about 200 insurgents. Another 27 U.S. troops were wounded. Between 21 and 52 enemy fighters were killed and another 45 wounded, the report said.
The report was completed Aug. 13, but an unclassified version was not released until this week. It confirmed many of the details previously released to the public about the incident, including suspicions that villagers were complicit in the attack.
The assault did not occur without warning. Coalition forces had received numerous intelligence reports that an attack on the base was being planned, but such threats did not come as a surprise in that volatile region along the Pakistan border. What was not expected, however, "was the collusion that took place" between the Afghan National Police chief and the enemy forces, the report said.
Troops also did not see that citizens from nearby Wanat began leaving the village that evening. "Post-attack intelligence indicates that the district police chief and district governor were complicit in supporting" the attack, said the report, which was compiled by leaders in the U.S. Army unit that came under assault.
The report noted that enemy forces fired on troops from within the homes of villagers and from the local mosque, adding that "they could not have achieved surprise without at least the passive support of the villagers."
Shortly after the attack, U.S. troops disarmed the district police force and briefly detained the district chief and police chief for questioning at the U.S. base, according to Afghan officials. Both were released within 24 hours.
The July attack was the deadliest against the U.S. military in three years and deepened doubts about its ability to keep locals on its side and contain Islamist insurgents.