Police return to work alongside Taleban at airport

KABUL (AFP) – Afghan police at Kabul airport have returned to work manning checkpoints alongside Taleban security for the first time since the extremists seized power, officers said yesterday.

When the Taleban swept into Kabul last month ousting the government, police abandoned their posts, fearful of what the extremists would do.

But two officers said they had returned to work on Saturday after receiving calls from Taleban commanders.

Yesterday, an AFP correspondent at the airport saw border police members deployed at several checkpoints outside the main buildings of the airport, including the domestic terminal.

“I came back to work yesterday more than two weeks after being sent home,” one of the police force members told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A Taleban fighter stands guard next to an Ariana Afghan Airlines aircraft on the tarmac at the airport in Kabul. PHOTO: AFP

“I received a call from a senior Taleban commander who asked me to come back,” another officer said.

“Yesterday was great, so happy to serve again.”

The Taleban said they have granted a general amnesty to everyone who worked for the former government – including the army, police and other security branches.

Officials said they want to integrate the opposing forces, but have not spelled out how this will happen – or how they will sustain a security apparatus made up of around 600,000 people.

Kabul airport was severely damaged during the chaotic evacuation of over 120,000 people that ended with the withdrawal of United States forces on August 30.

The Taleban, who swept into Kabul after routing government forces on August 15, have been scrambling to get the capital’s airport operating again with Qatari technical assistance.