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Afghan Guards Confound U.S. Forces - WSJ.com

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A contingent of Army Rangers was moving toward a target in late October when it came under fire from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Fearful the team would be wiped out, U.S. officers called in air strikes. When the dust settled, 22 Afghans lay dead and six American soldiers were wounded.

Just who these dead Afghans were is still unclear. Afghan and some U.S. officials say they were hired by an Afghan road-construction firm to protect nearby workers. The security company confirms their employment. But other U.S. military officials say the Afghans were militants who targeted American troops.

Armed private security companies are proliferating in Afghanistan -- hired in many cases to protect Afghan companies doing work for the U.S. And for the American forces who regularly encounter these armed men, it is perilously hard to discern their identities and their loyalties. Some of these guards may be linked to the militant leaders or drug traffickers who regularly battle U.S. troops.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 27th, 2009 at 04:27:13 PM EST
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