Five policeman and a child killed by roadside bomb

Five policemen and a three-year-old child were killed this morning in Afghanistan when the vehicle they were travelling in hit a roadside bomb in the eastern province of Khost, close to the border with Pakistan.

Local police chief General Mohammad Ayub blamed the attack on Taliban militants who repeatedly target police officers. In 2007 the Taliban killed more than 925 officers.

Afghan police often work in small groups in remote and dangerous territory, where they are outnumbered and outgunned by insurgents.

Afghan police are poorly paid – a young police officer makes $100 (£50) a month – and many complain of senior officers skimming from their pay cheques or of not being paid at all.

The US began a new training scheme this year for small teams of American soldiers to mentor and train police officers for several months. The scheme, which also gives the police upgraded weapons and equipment, is expected to last four years.

Before this scheme, the lack of effective police training had been cited as one of the west’s biggest failings since the 2001 US-led invasion.

Insurgent violence in Afghanistan flared last year, when a record 6,500 people were killed according to figures from western and Afghan officials. Most of these deaths were militants.

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