April 11, 2010
Analysis: bizarre – even by Helmand standards
The arrest of three Italian aid workers for alleged complicity in a plot to kill the British-backed Governor of Helmand province is a bizarre development but not one without a certain amount of history to it.
The Emergency hospital in Helmand is the best source of medical care in Helmand, outside the military field hospitals run by the British and Americans.
The hospital’s moral commitment to care for all those in need means that a sizeable proportion of those treated for battle injuries are suspected of being Taleban fighters. They invariably describe themselves as civilians caught in crossfire.
This has long been a source of irritation and suspicion for the Afghan Government.
However, in 2007 darker accusations were made by the Government, which accused employees of the Emergency hospital of a role in the kidnap of an Italian journalist, Daniel Mastrogiacomo, and two Afghan colleagues by the Taleban.
The Italian was freed after the release of a number of Taleban prisoners. The Afghans were beheaded.
Afghan officials say that Italian government pressure stopped further investigation of the hospital’s alleged role in the kidnap. As one senior government official said in Kabul yesterday: “There has been suspicion for some time of Emergency.”