Embassy guards 'dress as Afghans'

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The Independent Online

Private security contractors guarding America's embassy in Kabul dressed as mujahedin fighters and went out on unauthorised night-time military operations in the Afghan capital, according to reports being investigated by the US State Department.

The dossier, seen by The Independent, tells how 18 guards, who are not trained for such missions, exposed the embassy to attack by taking weapons from its armoury. By removing night-vision goggles, they also left embassy staff "largely night-blind" in the event of an emergency, the reports adds.

The company which employed the contractors, ArmorGroup North America (AGNA), is the subject of a highly critical report by the Project on Government Oversight (Pogo), an independent monitoring group which has sent its findings to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. While other claims have centred on drunkenness and sexual misconduct in the guards' quarters at Camp Sullivan outside Kabul, the new revelations will have a direct impact on security at a legation that Washington acknowledges is a prime target for terrorists.

During their foray into Kabul in the spring of this year, guards are said to have photographed themselves taking part in the "undercover" operation, later posting the images online.

The report reveals that, instead of taking action against the guards involved, AGNA gave them a mocked-up citation which improperly bore the seal of the US State Department and praised them for their "intrepidity".