Taliban trying to scuttle security switch: Omar
KABUL(PAN): Taliban insurgents have stepped attacks in an effort to scuttle the security transition process and force foreign troops to stay put in the country, President Hamid Karzai's spokesman said on Monday.
Waheed Omar made the remarks at a news conference in Kabul, hours after Karzai's advisor on tribal affairs Jan Mohammad Khan was assassinated along with parliamentarian Mohammad Hashim Watanwal in a Taliban assault.
A condolence ceremony for the victims was held at the Presidential Palace. President Karzai, Wolesi Jirga Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, cabinet members and parliamentarians, religious scholars, tribal elders and relatives of the victims attended the ceremony.
On July 12, Karzai's half-brother Ahmad Wali Karzai was shot dead by his bodyguards’ commander inside his residence in the southern province of Kandahar.
In April, Kandahar police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid was killed in a suicide bombing. On May 28, Gen. Daud Daud, the commander of the 303rd Pamir Police Zone, died in a suicide blast in Takhar province.
On March 10, Kunduz police chief Abdul Rahman Syedkheli was assassinated in a similar assault. Taliban fighters claimed responsibility for all the strikes.
In a bid to prevent the withdrawal of foreign soldiers and the security transition to Afghan forces, the rebels were increasing attacks across the country, the spokesman said.
"We're ready for the security switch to Afghan forces and the enemy can't hamper the project by assassinating prominent government figures," Omar added.
The first phase of the much-awaited transition was set in motion in central Bamyan province on Sunday. Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, the first phase of the switch covers Bamyan, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Lashkargah, Kabul, Panjsher and Mahtarlam.
Flanked by interior ministry spokesman Ghulam Siddiq Siddiqui, Omar once again urged the fighters to join the national reconciliation programme.
With the security transfer underway in the seven regions, Afghan police were capable of fighting the guerrillas without support from foreign troops, Siddiqui said. Thousands of policemen had been trained at the 36 centres set up last year in different parts of the country, he added.
With regard to the overnight incident, he said one of the attackers entered Khan's house and came out after he was paid 3,000 afghanis by the former Uruzgan governor.
Since there were no security guards, the gunmen stormed Khan's house and killed him along with Watanwal, the official explained.
Two of the assailants were killed in a subsequent exchange of fire with police. One policeman was killed and three others were injured in theencounter, he concluded.
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