Afghan Police Suffer Uptick In Casualty Numbers
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Now let's follow up on the U.S. effort to withdraw from Afghanistan. The United States is turning over responsibility to Afghanistan's own security forces, and the question is whether the Afghans can prevail against the Taliban. Afghans have suffered about 9,000 killed in just two years - a rate that one U.S. general called unsustainable. Yesterday, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, told us to look at where those Afghan deaths came.
GENERAL JOHN CAMPBELL: The greatest number of those casualties were an uptick on the police side, again, maybe a lot more on the Afghan Local Police, which are way out in the outskirts and the far reaches of Afghanistan. They have minimal training. They don't have the same type of weapons as the army or the regular police.
INSKEEP: That's General John Campbell on MORNING EDITION yesterday. Let's talk about this more with NPR's Sean Carberry, who joins us from Kabul. And, Sean, what does it mean that most of these deaths would be among police in the countryside?
SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Well, it means that there's a lot of fighting going on. The police are the ones who are most often out on the grounds. They secure checkpoints around government buildings. They are the ones out there patrolling on a more regular basis than the army. So on one level, it makes sense that more police are getting killed and injured. But it's a sign of the fact that there's been a lot of fighting this year. The Taliban have stormed a lot of police checkpoints around the country and have been able to hold some of that ground for periods of time until the army came in and knocked the Taliban back out.
INSKEEP: The general is also suggesting the Taliban is active in the countryside, but he went on to say, there's no way the Taliban could take a major city. Is that true?
CARBERRY: That's a pretty realistic assessment at this point. The major cities are heavily secured. The Taliban, though, still carry out attacks. There was a suicide bombing earlier this week where a suicide bomber got inside the Kabul police headquarters and blew himself up. So these kinds of things are happening. But the likelihood of the Taliban rolling into Kandahar or Herat or Kabul are highly unlikely.
INSKEEP: But how much of the countryside does the Taliban control at this point?
CARBERRY: It's hard to say in terms of land area. But they still are entrenched in places like Helmand Province in the south, Kandahar - a number of the Eastern provinces that border Pakistan. They're largely confined to rural and remote areas. But they are still deeply entrenched in places that Afghan forces can't dislodge them.
INSKEEP: Sean, thanks very much.
CARBERRY: You're welcome, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Sean Carberry.
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