More bodies of missing Afghan police are recovered

By Greg Jaffe and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 8, 2010

Afghan authorities have recovered the bodies of five of the 16 policemen who vanished a week ago after an apparent Taliban attack on their remote base in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Sunday.

The discovery of the bodies is the latest suggestion that the policemen did not defect willingly, as some Afghan officials initially suspected, but in fact were captured by Taliban fighters.

Their bodies were found in Wardak, a province in eastern Afghanistan that borders Ghazni, where they disappeared Nov. 1. A spokesman for Wardak's provincial governor said the policemen, still in uniform, were shot to death. The corpses of four of the men were found earlier, leaving seven still unaccounted for.

The incident underscores the challenge facing U.S. and Afghan officials as they try to extend the reach of the Afghan government and security forces to some of the most remote and inaccessible districts of the country.

Initial reports from Afghan officials and a Taliban spokesman suggested that the police force in Khogeyani district switched sides to the Taliban. Shortly after the station fell, a Taliban spokesman touted the defections as proof that the insurgent movement was winning new converts.

After U.S. officials visited the area, they said it appeared more likely the police had been driven from the station by Taliban forces.

Partlow reported from Kabul. Special correspondent Javed Hamdard in Kabul contributed to this report.

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