Thursday, April 5, 2007

$1,900 Cdn reward for Nato's killed

Afghan leader claims cash rewards offered to kill NATO soldiers
Jonathan Fowlie, CanWest News Service April 5

MAYWAND, Afghanistan —
The leader of an Afghan district claims the Pakistani secret police are offering cash rewards to anyone who uses an explosive device to injure or kill a NATO soldier.

"I have heard the Pakistan ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is openly giving money for people that are laying mines," said Haji Saifullah, district leader for Maywand — a desert region in the northwest sector of Kandahar province.

"If the mine goes off on coalition forces they are going to get more money, if they go off on (Afghanistan National Army soldiers) they are going to get middle-class money and if it is going off on police they are going to get less money," he added, while speaking through an interpreter provided by the Canadian military.

CanWest News Service could not independently verify Saifullah’s comments on Wednesday, and the district leader did not provide any direct evidence.

In Wednesday’s interview, Saifullah said he has been told a successful bomber will get roughly $1,900 Cdn if he kills a member of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, and about $380 Cdn for members of the Afghan forces.

He added he has heard a bomber will get half those amounts if he is able to simply hit a convoy with an explosive device.

Canadian forces have been working in the area since March 6 as part of Operation Achilles — a mission meant to stabilize neighbouring Helmund Province so work can begin on a large dam that will help with irrigation and power.

Saifullah said unless new irrigation systems are installed, farmers in the area will continue to grow poppies on their land.

"If they grow something else, like corn or wheat they are not going to get money," he said. "They’d like to grow something else but because of the expense of water they cannot afford that," he added. "Therefore they have to grow poppies."

Saifullah also lauded Canada for it’s commitment to the Afghan mission and for the sacrifices it has made.

"I am thankful for all Canadians that you are operating in Afghanistan," he said. "For those soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, we are praying for those people.