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Crooked Afghan police challenge Marines

Coalition forces in Afghanistan are under constant threat from militants, but a recent incident last week points up another major challenge -- corrupt local police.

In this photo taken on July 7, 2009, Afghan police officers sit in the back of a police truck, as a U.S. Marine is seen in the foreground in Aynak , Helmand province south of Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan villagers have complained repeatedly to Marines that the Afghan police force steals from them and beats them. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

AYNAK, Afghanistan (AP) - Coalition forces in Afghanistan are
under constant threat from militants, but a recent incident last
week points up another major challenge -- corrupt local police.
After getting complaints from villagers for days, about 150
Marines and Afghan soldiers approached the police headquarters in
the Helmand River town of Aynak. They were greeted by several
police gunshots, followed by a tense meeting.
The U.S. troops ousted the police two days later and installed a
better trained force.
Afghans across the country complain bitterly about the country's
police. Citizens say police pad their salaries by demanding bribes
at checkpoints or kickbacks to investigate complaints or turning a
blind eye to drug smuggling for a cut of the profits.
A 2007 report found that Afghans often view the police "more as
a source of fear than of security."
The Interior Ministry has tried to overhaul the police, and
dozens of corrupt officials have been fired.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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