TALIBAN bomb-makers and leaders caught red-handed trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan have been freed without trial after paying off corrupt local officials, officers complain.
American officers in Ghazni province say that in several cases they have been powerless to prevent the release of insurgents despite strong evidence that they were attacking the US-led NATO forces.
The men were released not as part of the judicial process, or as part of a formal reconciliation deal, but after corrupt officials had taken bribes worth thousands of euro. A former Afghan intelligence chief from the eastern province confirmed that the practice had been rife in the region for some time.
Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division have been sent to southern Ghazni this summer with just months to try to stabilise security and bolster the Afghan forces before pulling out.
The Taliban has had free run of the area in recent years, installing its own shadow administration and attacking military convoys.
Mohammad Aref Shah Jahan, ex-head of the Afghan intelligence service in Ghazni, said there was a long-standing financial trade in prisoners. "They are releasing the real Taliban and keeping people who are nothing," he said.
Musa Khan Akbarzada, the governor of Ghazni, denied any knowledge of corruption and said all captives taken in Ghazni must go before the court. (© Daily Telegraph, London)