Arrests follow deadly Afghan clash

Police chief among 10 killed in gunfight blamed on US-trained security guards.

    The gunfight erupted at the offices of the attorney general in Kandahar [REUTERS]

    "The armed gunmen opened fire on police and unfortunately, very suddenly, killed the chief police of Kandahar," he said.

    At least five other police officers were wounded in the shooting, Bashary said.

    Hours later, Thoryalai Wesa, the provincial governor, said 41 private guards had been disarmed and arrested and would be sent to the Afghan capital, Kabul, for a military trial.

    Karzai statement

    But before the arrests, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, in a strongly worded statement demanded that US coalition forces hand over the security guards involved in the shooting.

    In video

     US eyes new Afghan strategy
     Hamid Karzai's main rival
     Afghan candidates risk assassination

    The president called for the "immediate handover by the coalition forces to the Afghan government of the private security guards involved in the killing of Kandahar province security officials", a statement said.

    "President Karzai said that such incidents negatively impact the state-building process in Afghanistan and called upon coalition forces to avoid actions that weaken the government," it said.

    David Chatar, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Kabul, said that the US-led coalition had released a statement saying no coalition forces were present at the time of the gunfight.

    The statement said that the guards were contractors for a private security firm loosely affiliated with coalition forces, our correspondent said.

    "It was only after that statement was issued by President Karzai that we suddenly hear that 41 of these Afghan security guards were arrested," he said.

    "[They were] apparently arrested on the military base just outside Kandahar. That's the Americans' second largest base."

    Fresh questions

    Chater said the incident raises "embarrassing questions" for the US-led coalition.

    "But the point is there have been many questions raised before about the coalition forces, and particularly the Americans, using these security firms and using these Afghans - some of them with criminal records - to work with them for security," he said.

    Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is a Taliban stronghold, where fears of mounting violence have grown ahead of key presidential and provincial council elections in August.

    Chater said Monday's shooting does nothing to help Karzai in the run-up to the election in which security is a key issue.

    "As far as the president is concerned, this is a big blow to the government here," he said.

    "It undermines his attempts to keep his government going and we're right in the middle of an election campaign."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.