May 20th, 2010
08:26 AM ET

A dangerous job in Kandahar

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It takes guts to be a policeman in Kandahar. You're a prime target for the Taliban, the local population has little trust in you and until recently you were ill-trained and ill-equipped.

All of the above may have changed only slightly but police commanders say things are at least moving in the right direction.

Mohammad Shafiq Afzali is police commissioner in charge of six provinces. Little surprise, he rarely finds time to leave Kandahar. He acknowledges the support of the locals is lacking but insists it's changing as the image of the police is improving.

"Before police were getting $40 to $50 a month, now they're getting around $250. When anyone's financial problems are solved they no longer want to do dishonest things," he says.

The convoy of a police chief, Fazal Ahmad Sherzad, was attacked by a double bomb blast, in a car and on a motorbike last month. He wasn't in the convoy at the time. He tells me he also survived an IED attack a few days ago. In the next breath, he says there is not that much violence in Kandahar. He says it with a straight face.

While on patrol with Sherzad, we pass a number of mobile checkpoints trying to prevent the Taliban or any other insurgents from accessing the city but the police have no estimate of how many fighters are already here.

Most attacks are by motorbike these days. The city is swarming with motorbikes, though, and the police struggle to stop more than a handful during our patrol.

The local estimate is there have been more than 20 assassinations in the past month, which CNN cannot confirm. But the rumor itself is enough to strike more fear in the hearts of half a million people in the city and to erode any confidence in the police ability to stop the violence.

There are police deaths most weeks in Kandahar but at the same time there are more patrols on the street and a stronger American presence in the heart of the city. We see a number of the M-RAP armored vehicles rolling through the streets with local traffic swerving to get around the cumbersome giants. It's a sign of the buildup toward increased military operations in the southern province.

One policeman says he is waiting for NATO to step in to make life easier for him on the beat. But as international and Afghan forces secure the surrounding areas of Kandahar, more fighters move into the heart of the city.

At police headquarters, the new recruits are being put through their paces. U.S. Marines help with the training. "We'll get more advanced with them on defending themselves in ambushes, and if their police station's attacked by the Taliban, we'll help them out with those defensive techniques as well," says Lt. Col. William Defrancis.

A few hours after we leave, three suicide bombers tried to infiltrate a police station down the road. Four policemen were injured in a gunfight, but the attackers were repelled.

Just another day on the beat in one of the world's most dangerous cities.

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. doug denunzio

    difficult to work with at a particular point in time.

    July 29, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. mounty

    it is really a difficult job working as a policeman in dangerous place

    May 24, 2010 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cyrus Howell


    Gust Avacatros

    May 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mission Accomplished

    What on Earth is the US still doing in Afghanistan?
    Yeah, you read correctly. What exactly? Is it:

    1.To kill all Talibani? If so then it is hopeless (besides being idiotic), because the Taliban is a religious group, so as you kill them new people take the place of the fallen. It wont end unless you are seriously considering genocide on a scale that would make the Holocaust seem peanuts.

    2. To avenge 9/11? Well, that attack was made by Saudi fanatics acting presumably on behalf of Saudi Osama bin Laden. So why is the US not mass bombing Saudi Arabia, instead of Afghan peasants? Besides, why did the Wahhabi terrorists strike NYC in the FIRST place, huh? Who started it all?

    May 22, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. chad

    Give they hell Will D

    May 21, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Iraq Paramedic

    Poppy fields are dieing of natural fungas, Taliban are getting desperate & killing more innocents which show their true evil side, India is getting an ichty trigger finger, the Afghan people are starting to see the real world outside their boarders & they want that prosperous, peacefull life & Pakistan is just plain being stupid & they better get their act together or they will probably be next on the list. With all this grap going on in that region those Policemen who are honest & do care about their fellow citizens should be commended. And yes Saudi Arabia needs to spread there money around to some of their poor nieghbors instead of the terrorist. The best idealogy is live & let live in peace & let GOD sort them out.
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 21, 2010 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Fawad

      Pakistan is next on the list? you cant even beat the shepards for last 9 years and you want to go fight an nucler army who just defeated these very shepards in Swat, Malakand, Dir and in fighting them in Waziristan. Iraq paramedic you are safe and sound today becasue of Pakistan army fighting these thugs in pakistan and facing bombs everyday in the cities of Pakistan. At least be thankful for their help or else you might be the next...!

      May 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Freedom Fighter!

    40 to 50 per month?? are you kiddn me??
    Who will work for the policeman job man??
    They have families too..

    May 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. steinhart

    Where are all you anti-war protesters we used to see in court house square during the Bush ear. Is war a lot cheaper now or more humane or some other wise ok? Useful idiots!

    May 20, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |


    muHAMmmadans are crazy , they belong to stone age like to follw crazy faku MuHAMmad , eat, dress. live like the cave man . go out of christian countries live your life

    May 20, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Fawad

      Perfect. Isnt that what the muslims have been asking for years now. Yes, we all will leave the christian countries if all of your bible followers leave the Islamic countries. That include both the followers of bible, The christians and the Jews. I am all for it shanku. We leave your lands and you leave ours...!

      May 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SHANKU

    why should americans , canadians for that matter these white christians should die ? for safegarding barbaric muhammadans ? where as these muslims think they go to heaven for killing kafirs and get 72 virgins and 10 boys in paradise . let saudi arabia take care of muslims who are real cause of terrorism , by sponsoring terrorism bulding mosques all over the world


    May 20, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • lol


      May 20, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Fawad

      well i will take the vigins but leave the boys for christians after all havnt you be reading the news. The men of cloth, the followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) perfer boys.... 🙂

      So next time you go visit a church shanku make sure you open your mouth wide open, kneeling down in front of the priest so the priest could thrust the communion in your throad deeply. After all you like communion dont you? Its the part of your faith.

      May 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ee


    May 20, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      noooo dont shoot who is the Kim Jong Ill ?

      May 20, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • brian

      i think this is Kim Jong ILL or the Iranian Prez or Venezuelan prez... you guys are idiots

      May 20, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. great patriot

    Open your eyes people! Ask yourself about the Poppy Fields, and ask yourself about Afghanis being tortured.. Come home soldiers..We love you.

    May 20, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Bear

      Articles like these put the consumer in the driver seat—very imoprnatt.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. richard

    Good article but it missed an opportunity to explain what personally motivates someone to risk so much for the salary quoted – but often not recieved in full by the individuals. Something more then money motivates the typical honest policeman prepared to stand in the snow or baking sun 365 years a day to direct traffic, attend the aftermath of bombings, ect. In comparison the issue of being a UN driver and earning between 500 – $1000 and creating such inbalance in the labour market is another story.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. the truth

    here's a way to end the war, END IT. either drop some big bombs and claim it ours, or leave them alone, good morning vietnam!

    May 20, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. the truth

    wow this is funny, at first I thought they were discussing mexico. you know, the "drug" wars are raging down there? very much worse then this war in afgan. give it another year, you will see.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  16. Mark

    I'm in Afghanistan right now and I get to see a lot of Afghan National Police activities. If you want to read more stories about Afghan National Police you can find them at under the news tab.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  17. ShareFacts

    No matter we like it OR not, If we want to end this conflict in Afghanistan, we have to get help from Pakistan, so they can force Afghan Taliban to get on with negotiations with USA. We have already tried alone for 9 years alone and its not working..

    We will have to accept the fact that Pakistan Army / ISI will never let India get into any role in Afghanistan..because they do not want to get encircled by india from both sides..

    As soon as we realize above, we can we out of this mess in Afghanistan..

    May 20, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • mounty

      a precise commentary. you are right. it involved in the conflict of Indian and Pakistani.

      May 24, 2010 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  18. McRuff

    The Iraqi's too were brave but were horrible as policemen for some time but they have gotten tremendously better and we are proud of how far they have come!

    May 20, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • iftikhar

      yes , we should be proud after killing a million !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 20, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  19. Flip

    how we doing....its almost going on ten years now...have we won the war yet?

    May 20, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • mounty

      no, it is a temporary victory, but a severe consequence would be entailed later.

      May 24, 2010 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  20. Joseph L Cooke

    Unlike US troops, these men are allowed to shoot at the enemy. They are not hamstrung by stupid ROE.

    – josephlcooke.blogspot

    May 20, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  21. Florida

    I have been there on a few occasions (not by my choice) and I am positive that money alone will not solve this problem. It is their ideals that will have to change which will only take time..... a very long time.

    May 20, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  22. Chris

    Insane! Will there ever be peace in the middle east?

    May 20, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • griz5106

      Afghanistan is actually in south east Asia.

      May 20, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
      • Captain Anonymous

        Actually its South West Asia. Trust me Southern Afghanistan has much more in common with the Middle East than China or what was Siam.

        May 22, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
      • George

        Accurately Afghanistan is in central Asia

        May 22, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • marinemom

      NO there will NEVER be PEACE in the Middle East ! !

      May 20, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
      • Fawad

        No, there will be peace in middle east after all the forigners are kicked out of the region. There is no peace in greate middle east region because outsiders, foriengers have come here for occupations and for stealing the wealth and for dominance. Once they are all out and one day they will be then there is going to be peace.

        I am for mutual respect and harmony but i am also for the rights of occupied to fight occupations no matter what kind of fancy reasons they come for or what kind of better life they promise. After all a theif never admits the theft.

        So yes there will be peace God willing.

        May 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • iftikhar

      But peace is not always in the favor of everybody. You might know that!!!!!!!!

      May 20, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • ZpEACE

      Of course there will be as long as Americans leave them alone and think of this "What if someone invade our country what would be our reaction? live in peace?".

      May 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • guest

        yeah right – like we just decided to go invade their garbage country for NO reason right? liberal heart retarded clown

        May 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Haroun Eikram

    just kind of putting it out there out maybe they would get more respect from people and a bit more trusted if they weren't so corrupted i have been there before (it was not the best summer) and you could bribe a cop to do just about anything so yeah just putting it out there. p.s for the record yes have been there no racist crap please i get enough of that crap when i leave my house i don't need to read it as well

    May 20, 2010 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      U get enough of that crap but I bet you would rather live here than there, we all get crap, just b/c you are muslim does not exempt you, i get mean looks all the time from latinos and arabs just b/c im white, works both ways, make your comment and if someone replies then so be it, you commented.

      May 20, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
      • Haroun Eikram

        um i do live in america i told you i went there for summer to visit relatives and sorry i meant no offense to you or any one else

        May 23, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  24. New York

    If the Afghanistan and Iraqi governments want full support and respect for their Police Officers they should honor them publicly with ceremonies and awards with medals and financial support for their families (pension). Portray the Police officers as heroes of Afghanistan and dedicate a very expensive memorial to them. This will inspire the officers to do and be better at their jobs as well as give the population something besides the insurgency to believe in.

    May 20, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • gabe

      thats a really good idea.also get the media to pay people for stories about awful actions committed by the taliban and al queada, get the media to paint them as evil. cause like us americans have learned, the media controls the mind

      May 20, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • andrew

      i think that creating these ceremonies would just be a target for the taliban. if your get a lot of high level people awarding officers it would end up being a bloodbath because they could just throw around some ied's or a suicide bomber. good suggestion but i think they are in a little worse of a condition than is portrayed in the media.

      May 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Haroun Eikram

        oy i just said that

        May 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |