Afghan Commander Accuses Foreign Troops of Killing Local Police

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An Afghan police commander on Wednesday accused international troops of killing two policemen by accident in one of the most potent Taliban strongholds in the south.

Kandahar provincial police chief Abdul Raziq said the victims were members of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), an anti-Taliban initiative in which local people are recruited to protect their own villages.

A spokesman for NATO's U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the Afghan capital Kabul said the military was looking into what reportedly happened late Tuesday in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province.

"They were mistaken for insurgents," Raziq told Agence France Presse. "The police returned fire and there was a brief exchange of fire."

Faiz Mohammad, who worked alongside the dead men, said they were praying when they came under fire from foreign forces. He added that four other people were wounded and evacuated by ISAF for treatment.

Like Muslims across the world, Afghans are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan in which faithful fast from dawn to dusk.

An ISAF spokesman said it was investigating the incident.

"We're aware of an incident in Kandahar province. A joint Afghan and ISAF investigation is underway. We're investigating this," a spokesman said.

The Afghan government has frequently criticized NATO troops over friendly fire incidents and operations in which civilians are killed.

In late May, President Hamid Karzai issued his "last warning" to the U.S. military to avoid "arbitrary" operations that kill Afghan civilians, saying such incidents were tantamount to "murder".

The warning came after an air strike in which Karzai said 14 civilians, including 11 children, were killed in the southern province of Helmand.

There are around 140,000 international forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and other insurgents, alongside Afghan government forces. Around 100,000 of them are American.

Some troop withdrawals have already started as part of a drawdown, which should see all foreign combat forces leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 but analysts question the ability of Afghan forces to fight the insurgency.

Kandahar is considered the birthplace of the Taliban.

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