An Afghan special forces commander, trained by the US, has defected to insurgents fighting international forces, taking with him a Humvee armoured vehicle packed with weapons, according to local officials.
It is the latest setback to the Afghan National Army (ANA), which is struggling to retain troops as it takes control of security throughout the country.
Shuja-Ul Mulk Jalala, governor of the eastern province of Kunar, said Museeb Khan had joined his uncle, a feared Hezb-i-Islami commander in the Shegal Valley, during last week’s religious festival of Eid.
He was an officer with a special force unit charged with launching operations against Islamist fighters.
With some soldiers already on leave for the holiday, Khan offered money to the rest so they could also take time off, said Mr Jalala.
“As his colleagues left, he start putting the guns and other equipment in a Humvee military vehicle and drove it to Shegal,” he added.
The equipment included night vision goggles – one of the key devices that gives the Afghan National Army and foreign forces an edge over militants.
The governor added that officials have been negotiating with tribal elders for the officer’s return.