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350 'ghost police' identified in Zabul: Official

Afghan security force

Kabul, Sep 16 (UITV/IANS)- Zabul police chief Hekmatullah Kochai on Wednesday said that at least 350 "ghost police" have been identified in the province, referring to police who are listed as being employed and who are paid but not serving in person.

According to Kochai, during his four-month tenure, he has added 400 new policemen to Zabul police, some of whom are residents of otheir provinces, tolo news reported.

"Undoubtedly, there are problems with the ghost police, but, fortunately, forces who were not physically present for their duties have been dismissed from the ranks of the police, and, instead, about 400 new young people have been recruited to serve their homeland. The problems and shortcomings that existed in the past have been removed," Kochai said.

This comes after SIGAR recently reported on a large number of ghost police forces in the southern part of Afghanistan.

Although drivers on the Kabul-Kandahar highway are still complaining about police extortion from civilian vehicles, Zabul police say that 54 policemen who extorted money from vehicles have been arrested.

A number of Zabul residents, although welcoming the reform of the Zabul police, do not consider the recent reforms to be sufficient in the province.

The Zabul police chief also acknowledged that the Taliban had intensified their attacks in the province once again, but said that some of the Taliban's plans to capture security checkpoints had been thwarted.