KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's national spy service is investigating the police force in Kunduz, a northern province that has fallen prey to criminal gangs, The New York Times reported Sunday.
So far at least 32 police officers have come under suspicion, a member of Parliament from Kunduz, Abdul Wadud Paiman, and other officials told the Times. Of those, more than a dozen police officers have been arrested, including several senior commanders, a spokesman for the governor, Wasi Basil, said. Others have been fired or suspended.
Mullah Mujahid, a Taliban commander in Kunduz province, was arrested last month. Under interrogation, the Times wrote, Mujahid began describing how police officers helped Taliban fighters, sometimes selling them ammunition, other times tipping them off to impending police operations, and began naming names, Paiman said.
The number of officers involved makes it one of the most significant corruption investigations within the national police force in years, the Times wrote. Although the police force in Afghanistan has a reputation for corruption, charges are rare.
Security in the province, which shares a border with Tajikistan, has worsened in recent years. By some estimates, Kunduz has about 3,000 armed militiamen, the paper reported.
By late last year, with most foreign troops departed, the Taliban effectively controlled two of the districts in Kunduz. President Ashraf Ghani has declared Kunduz a priority and appointed a new governor and security officials for the province. The army sent in troop reinforcements from a neighboring province.
It is not entirely clear why the most recent arrest of Mujahid, in mid-January, turned out so differently from his previous arrests, Paiman is reported as saying.
Mujahid, who is 30 years old and whose actual name is Anwar ul Haq, remains in custody, Paiman said, telling the Times, "Mullah Mujahid confessed in the interrogation and named who helped them from within the police."
For the moment, it is not entirely clear whether investigators believe Mujahid's allegations are credible. But the accusations against the officers go beyond selling ammunition, a not uncommon form of corruption, officials said.
Some have been accused of "sending information to the militants so that the Taliban could plan their attacks or ambushes," Basil told the Times.