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Taliban claims about cop defections 'baseless,' Afghan official says

Updated at 9:16 a.m. ET on Wednesday: The Taliban claimed Tuesday that 18 members of Afghanistan's border police force and local militia had deserted their respective services and joined the "Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in Nangarhar, a province close to Pakistan.

"After holding a few meetings with local elders...all the 18 policemen and personnel of the local militia agreed and came to us at Surkh Rodh area of Nangarhar province," claimed Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

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He said all the policemen joined the insurgent movement early on Tuesday.

There is no way to verify Taliban claims independently, but the organization supplied a list of the names of the 18 who had allegedly defected.

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Taliban insurgents regularly issue claims of responsibility for attacks and other incidents that are later proved to be false.

In a statement sent to NBC News early on Wednesday, Afghanistan's Ministry of the Interior said the Taliban's claims about the police defections were "baseless and untrue."

A man in an Afghan police uniform shot and killed two US special forces members in the western Farah Province of Afghanistan. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.


However, Mujahid said they had persuaded local elders and parents to convince their sons who were working in the new Afghan security services to stop supporting the "occupying" forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan Taliban income: $400 million last year, UN estimates

Many Afghans say the Taliban often threaten family members and relatives of those serving in the Afghan army or police, putting them under pressure to quit.

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