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Afghans get police training
KABUL, Afghanistan -- The top brass of Kabul's new police force got their first lesson in fighting street crime Tuesday with a mock demonstration by international peacekeepers. But they're missing a few key crimefighting tools -- from pens to police cars.
Training of the 3,600-member force begins in earnest in March. Tuesday's initial instruction at a cavernous warehouse on the outskirts of Kabul was meant to show a few of the department's leaders what is expected of them.
"We hope they will be interested in what they see and it will trickle down to the policemen," said British Flight Lt. Tony Marshall, a spokesman for the peacekeepers.
Some trainees have been riding around with the peacekeepers for more than a month, just observing. But training the underequipped, underfunded Afghan men to fight crime on their own in the war-battered capital is a daunting task.
A working police force is considered key to establishing the credibility of the government of interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.
So far, the issue of resources has been challenging. Police in Kabul didn't even have pens and paper to take notes at crime scenes until they were given them by peacekeepers. Pursuing criminals has been difficult since the force has no cars. For the moment, police are using bicycles supplied by peacekeepers.
Germany plans to donate eight vehicles for the new police force, and Britain is sending communications equipment.
"They are extremely well-motivated, but they lack the resources," Marshall said.
Tuesday's mock crime scene was acted out by about a dozen international soldiers. A man lay beside a car, seemingly shot in the head. A woman screamed: "Help me! Help me! A man is dead!"
The woman was frantic -- but the international police were calm, professional and thorough.
The demonstration was conducted by peacekeepers from Britain, Italy, Germany, and France. The German forces will be largely responsible for teaching the rank-and-file police once training gets under way next month.
Kabul Police Chief Bazeer Salanghi is a former commander in the northern alliance, the military force that seized Kabul last November after U.S. and British bombing sent the Taliban regime fleeing south.
Northern alliance soldiers briefly took over the capital, but agreed to cede control after a U.N.-brokered agreement established Karzai's interim administration.
The accord dictated that the alliance soldiers be replaced by a new police force. Many of the 3,600 men are simply former northern alliance soldiers wearing new uniforms.
Salanghi, for instance, brought 500 of his men into the police force, said Mohammed Rasoul, a policeman who used to fight under the northern alliance commander.
Brig. Barney White-Spunner, chief of the multinational brigade in Kabul, said many of the senior officers are police veterans trained in the 1970s by Germany before Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviets in 1979.