KABUL, Afghanistan — For months, American and Afghan officials have been promoting a plan to persuade masses of rank-and-file Taliban fighters to change sides and join the government. The tactic, known as “reintegration,” is one of the big hopes for turning the tide in the war.
Naweed Haqjoo/European Pressphoto Agency
In Khogeyani, a volatile area southwest of the capital, the entire police force on duty Monday morning appears to have defected to the Taliban side. A spokesman for the Taliban said the movement’s fighters made contact with the Khogeyani’s police force, cut a deal, and then sacked and burned the station. As many as 19 officers vanished, as did their guns, trucks, uniforms and food.
Even the local police chief, who missed the attack, said he suspected a defection en masse.
“This was not an attack, but a plot,” said Mohammed Yasin, the chief of the Khogeyani police force. “The Taliban and the police made a deal.”
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the Afghan officers decided to defect after “learning the facts about the Taliban.”
“We never force people to join us,” said Mr. Mujahid, whose name is fictitious. “The police joined us voluntarily and are happy to work with us, and to start the holy war shoulder to shoulder with their Taliban brothers.”