Plainclothes gunmen wander Khost City
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Residents say they are worried about the increasing number of plainclothes gunmen in this capital city of southeastern Khost province.
However, local officials say the gunmen in plain clothes are not dangerous as most of them have been assigned duty.
But locals say it is hard to differentiate between legal and illegal gunmen when they are in plainclothes.
They add most of such gunmen were seen escorting provincial council candidates before the April 5 elections.
Akbar Wali, a resident of Khost City, said it seemed plainclothes gunmen had outnumbered policemen because they could be seen everywhere in the city.
He said these long-haired gunmen wearing traditional pakool caps could not be told apart from Taliban.
“We don’t know if they are Taliban, criminals or security men. What we know is that their presence is spreading terror among dwellers,” he said.
Gul Wali Shah, who owns a shop at the city’s Sargardan Square, told Pajhwok Afghan News that local residents felt uncomfortable and insecure on seeing these plainclothes gunmen.
He urged security officials, particularly intelligence, to keep a strong vigil on these gunmen and avoid issuing permits for carrying guns to everyone.
“Gunmen wandering the city along with security officials will finally lead me to shutter down by shop and stay home,” Shah lamented.
Noor Ali, who totes an AK-47 in on the city outskirts, said he had obtained a permit for the gun from the police headquarters because he had a personal enmity. “It is my urgency to keep the Kalashnikov.”
But Noor Ali said he used to keep his gun at a secret place before entering the city so that people did not feel awkward.
He called on individuals having obtained arm permits to avoid entering the city with their guns that attracted people’s attention and made them worried.
“Gunmen should abandon their arms at a secure place before entering the city because people think they will somehow create problems.”
Khost provincial council chief Syed Karim Khaksar told Pajhwok Afghan News most plainclothes gunmen belonged to election campaigners or the provincial Special Forces.
He said off-duty security officials also kept guns along as a serious need for their own security.
Khaksar said he had discussed the issue with the provincial police headquarters and he had been promised solid steps to resolve it.
Meanwhile, deputy provincial police chief Col. Mohammad Yaqub Mandozai told Pajhwok most of plainclothes gunmen had been assigned duty.
He said these gunmen included off-duty security officials and they could not be prevented from carrying guns which they needed for self-defence.
Other security organs have also assigned security duty to gunmen in plainclothes, he said.
But the governor’s spokesman, Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, said the governor’s house had discussed the issue of plainclothes gunmen with all security organs. He said it had been directed that no illegal plainclothes gunmen should be seen in the city anymore.
He said if an off-duty security personal did not possess leave form from his department concerned, he would face legal action.
Zadran said the governor’s house had clearly directed the security departments to issue formal tickets of leave to off-duty officials, otherwise their arms would be confiscated and the responsible ones dealt with under the law.
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