A group of about two dozen Afghan national police officers may have defected to the Taliban, according to American and Afghan officers here in Wardak Province. The police officers left their posts in Chak, a remote district of Wardak, just before midnight Wednesday, and on Thursday morning a spokesman for the Taliban claimed that the officers had surrendered to them. They left with all their weapons, two trucks and machine guns and heavy weapons, said Maj. Abdul Khalil, the police chief in the Jalrez district, just north of Chak. Major Khalil said there had been a dispute about pay. We dont know if they have gone over to the Taliban, or they just ran away, or what has happened, he said. Were concerned, though, because they took heavy weapons. About the same time Major Khalil was speaking, a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a telephone interview that 24 police officers in Chak had surrendered to the Taliban, with their weapons and two trucks. They are safe now and will not be harmed and will be treated well under our code of conduct, Mr. Mujahid said. The American Army battalion commander in charge of training the police in Wardak, Lt. Col. David Sink, said he had been informed about the officers disappearance by the Afghan national police, but had no further details. The spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, Zemarai Bashary, said it was still unclear whether the officers disappearance was an inside plot by one of those soldiers, or they were ambushed and captured. (NYT)