Kabul to begin disarming militias

Afghanistan said on Wednesday it would begin disarming tens of thousands of fighters next month in an effort to bring security to the country and consolidate the government.

    US forces in Afghanistan have
    failed to provide security

    An Afghan cabinet minister said the disarmament programme aims to collect arms handed over voluntarily by men on the defence ministry's payroll.


    The programme, funded by donor countries, will take up to three years to disarm an estimated 100,000 fighters.


    They will be expected to find alternative jobs or join the fledgling national army.


    But the programme will not succeed unless there were reforms within the defence ministry itself, said government officials.


    The call came a day after Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, urged an overhaul of the defence ministry.


    At the helm of the ministry is General Mohammad Fahim, a powerful regional leader with a personal army.

    Regional commanders across Afghanistan continue to hold sway over large areas of the state through private armies, hampering efforts to build a national army.

    One person was killed and four other people injured in clashes in western Afghanistan between the forces of rival regional commanders, said a local commander.

    Commander Aman Allah Khan claimed an unknown number of troops loyal to Herat governor Ismail Khan had attacked his forces near Shindand in southern Herat province early on Wednesday.

    Ismail Khan's forces apparently planted anti-tank mines in the road before clashes erupted.

    US troops attacked


    Meanwhile, a convoy of US troops was hit by a bomb blast and came under fire in eastern Afghanistan, but there were no casualties, said American military officials.


    The United States is in charge of
    training and equipping an Afghan
    national army

    A group of gunmen opened fire at the military convoy outside of Asadabad in Kunar province on Tuesday, said a US military statement issued from Bagram Air Base.

    There was only minor damage to one vehicle in the incident. Asadabad base, about 180 kilometres northeast of Kabul, has come under regular attack.

    Four rockets were fired at Asadabad base over the weekend.


    In western Afghanistan a German delegation visited Herat to assess whether to set up a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) there, said US military officials.

    PRTs are controversial US-led civil-military projects intended to improve security in the provinces and speed up reconstruction.

    Germany has expressed interest in the idea and Britain is due to set up one in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif next month.

    International aid groups have criticised the concept saying it blurs the line between civil and military action, possibly putting humanitarian workers at risk of attacks by armed factions.

    Some analysts have also said the military should stick to detaining remnants of Taliban and al-Qaeda and improving security rather than getting involved in reconstruction work.

    A US-led coalition of about 11,500 troops is currently scouring the country for Taliban and al-Qaeda members but is not involved in providing security to the population.


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