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US halts Afghan militia training

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. military has halted the training of Afghan government-backed militias for at least a month in order to redo the vetting of new recruits after a string of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies, officials said Sunday.

There have been 34 insider attacks this year — at least 12 in August alone — that have killed 45 international troops, throwing doubt on the ability of Afghan and coalition forces to live and work together during a key time in the transition to Afghan control of security. One of the pillars of the international troop drawdown is for allied forces to hand over responsibility for the country's security to Afghans by the end of 2014.

Lt. Col. John Harrell, a spokesman for U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the pause in training affects about 1,000 trainees of the Afghan Local Police, a militia backed by the government in Kabul.

“The training of the ALP recruits has been paused while we go through this re-vetting process, to take a look at this process to see if there's anything that we can improve,” Harrell said. “It may take a month, it may take two months, we don't know.”

Afghan Local Police forces that have already been trained will continue to operate, and the government will continue to recruit new members, Harrell said.

Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan, also said there was no set date for the training of the local police to resume.

The pause in training for the government-backed militias was first reported by the Washington Post.

Harrell said the Americans last month also put a two-week pause on operations by the Afghan special forces last month to re-vet those soldiers for any potential ties to insurgents. He did not say whether any suspicious links were uncovered.

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