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    Kunduz police, German troops launch joint exercise

    KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): Afghan Quick Reaction Force (QRF) personnel on Thursday embarked on a three-day military exercise with German troops in northern Kunduz province, ahead of taking the lead in night time operations, officials said.

    Officials and residents say night operations by foreign soldiers often result into casualties among civilians and if Afghan forces take over the responsibility for such raids, it could prevent any untoward incident in the future.

    Being an import part of the national police, a 60-member QRF contingent joined German soldiers in military drills being conducted at the Kunduz airport, a senior police officer said.  The contingent had already completed a year-long training.

    Samiullah Qatrah, the deputy police chief, said Afghan security forces needed to be fully prepared ahead of assuming the security responsibility for the whole of the country.

    He said the security transition to the Afghan lead would help reduce civilian casualties in operations against militants.

    He recalled 25 civilians were killed and 63 others injured during an operation led by foreign troops in the province in September last year.

    A United Nations report on civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict said civilian casualties rose by 8 percent in 2011, compared to 2010, when 3,000 civilians were killed in violence-related incident across the country.

    A Kunduz provincial council member Mahbobullah Mahboob told Pajhwok Afghan News it was a much-awaited desire of people to see their forces take over control of all operations, especially night raids, from foreign forces.

    Kunduz residents believe Afghan forces are capable to maintain security on their own, while foreign troops are not familiar with Afghan culture and traditions.