CIA-trained forces in Afghanistan killing civilians
A highly secretive CIA-trained paramilitary unit, known as the Khost Protection Force (KPF), operating in eastern Afghanistan, has been implicated in civilian killings, torture and resorting to excessive force under the guise of counterterrorism activities, a new report says.
Paid, equipped, and directed by the US Intelligence Agency to allegedly fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the mountainous province of Khost, the covert Afghan militia killed at least six civilians during the past month only. The group also made arbitrary arrests and conducted controversial night raids, according to a detailed report published in The Washington Post on Thursday.
The report, which is based on accounts provided by local officials and civilians, former commanders of KPF, and Western advisers, uncovered the tragic incidents of killing a husband and wife on November 20, and a 50-year-old man with his 26-year-old son on November 11, among others.
In another incident around six months ago, a 17-year-old student named Javedullah was shot dead crossing a KPF checkpoint in Khost city because he was listening to his earphones and did not hear the KPF fighter who had ordered him to stop.
In December 2014, 14 KPF members also stormed into the house of a man named Meerajudin and gunned down his 14-year-old son in the back as the boy was fleeing for cover.
“I was begging them to stop firing. I was yelling, ‘He’s only a child,” he recalled.
The father lodged a lawsuit against the militia and demanded an investigation be opened into the incident.
“The KPF, though, handed only three fighters over to the authorities. In an apparent effort to cover up their crime, the militiamen in court documents confessed they placed an AK-47 next to the boy’s corpse, at the order of their commander, to make it seem as if he was armed,” the report further read.
The KPF, which is said to be more influential than the Afghan army and police in the province, has around 3,500 members, mainly recruited from local tribes in the restive province and paid $400 (£270) every month, roughly twice the salary of a member of the regular security forces.
“In several attacks, witnesses described hearing English being spoken by armed men who had interpreters with them, suggesting American operatives were present during assaults where extreme force was used,” the report further said.
According to the report, the KPF is just one of several large paramilitary forces created by the CIA in the months after the Taliban was ousted following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.