Karzai wants US troops out of Afghan province in 2 weeks

Monday, February 25, 2013
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
[PHOTO: Special Arrangements]

Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered U.S. Special Forces to leave the central province of Wardak within two weeks. 

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said Karzai had instructed the country's Defense Ministry to expel U.S. Special Forces from the province at an Afghan National Security Council meeting on February 24.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul, Faizi said the decision was taken due to the actions of Afghan militia working with U.S. Special Forces.

Wardak Province, west of Kabul, has been the recent focus of counterinsurgency operations.

Faizi accused U.S. Special Forces and Afghans working with them of "causing insecurity, instability, and harassing local people” in the province.

Faizi alleged that nine people disappeared after the U.S. Special Forces conducted a military operation in Wardak Province. He did not give the exact date and place of the incident.

Afghan units are also blamed for beheading a university student in Wardak.

U.S. officials in Afghanistan were quoted as saying they took all allegations of misconduct seriously. But they said they could not comment specifically on the announcement.

The accountability of U.S. forces and local militia working with them as well as civilian casualties inflicted by NATO forces have been a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan.

A week ago, Karzai banned Afghan security forces from calling for NATO air strikes in residential areas to help in their operations.

The move came after 10 civilians and four Taliban fighters reportedly died in an air strike by coalition forces in the eastern province of Kunar.

The developments come as Afghan security forces increasingly assume control of security from international forces ahead of their complete withdraw by the end of 2014.

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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