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Some 50 Afghan Policemen Arrested For Helping Taliban

HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- The Afghan government has disarmed and arrested about 50 Afghan policemen, suspected of corruption and helping the Taliban, while a dozen others defected to the Taliban, a provincial official said.

The police were in charge of security posts in the western province of Farah, where a resurgent Taliban insurgency has flared in recent years.

"We arrested some 48 policemen for their unlawful actions on [December 29], but 12 others handed themselves over to the Taliban," provincial Deputy Governor Mohammad Younis Rasooli told Reuters.

"We are investigating the arrested policemen to find out what other crimes they have committed," Rasooli said.

The police, often the only arm of the Afghan state active in isolated outposts across the mountainous country, suffer more casualties than any other force.

Nonexistent before 2001, as Afghanistan had no concept of a national police, the force has been criticized for endemic corruption, and become renowned for fleeing in the face of Taliban attacks and milking the populace for bribes.

On December 29, a Taliban spokesman told Reuters that about 35 Afghan police had defected to the Islamist group.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Kabul was not immediately available for comment.

More than seven years since U.S.-led and Afghan troops toppled the Taliban after the September 11 attacks in the United States, violence against civilians and foreign troops has increased in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who have vowed to drive out about 65,000 foreign troops deployed by NATO and the U.S. military, are gaining ground, particularly in the south.