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Afghan forces on high alert for Nawroz festival

Afghan forces on high alert for Nawroz festival

Mar 20, 2011 - 18:40

KABULinfo-icon(PANinfo-icon): In the wake of possible insurgent attacks, Afghan police and military are placed on high alert in Kabul to ensure new year's celebrations, which begin on Monday, passed off peacefully, a military official said on Sunday.

"It is one of our duties to make sure Nawroz celebrations are held peacefully," Maj. Gen. Qadam Shah Samim, the 111th Kabul Brigade commander, said.

Nawroz marks the beginning of spring and the traditional New Year in Afghanistaninfo-icon, Iran and other countries of central Asia

There have been intelligence reports that suicide bombers from areas near the Pakistani border have been trying to infiltrate Kabul and other major cities for weeks.

However, Samim said their brigade was on high alert to thwart possible attacks from insurgents in Kabul city. Security check posts had been set up in up-scale areas overlooking the city, he added.

His assurance comes amid reports that police had found a huge cache of arms in Kunduz province, which borders Balkh province, the main hub for Nawroz festivities.

The depot included 15 mortar shells, three rocket rounds, three hand grenades, 500 rounds of machinegun and four walkie talkies, police spokesman, Haroon Aryayee Nijad, told a press conference on Sunday.

The arms were found kept inside in a ruined house in Chardara district on Sunday night, he said, accusing armed opposition groups of trying to disrupt Nawroz event.

In southeastern Khost, unknown people had issued night letters in different parts of provincial capital, Khost City, asking residents not to celebrate the day. Calling the festival un-Islamic, the letters spread fear among people, a resident of the city, Noor Mohammad told Pajhwok Afghan News. He said: "I saw a poster pasted on the wall of our mosqueinfo-icon. Talibaninfo-icon have threatened those who will celebrate the day".

The resident asked security officials to take necessary measures so that people could mark the day without any fear.

Officials at the Khost police headquarters say a 1,800-strong police force will be on patrol in different parts of the city to maintain security for the holiday.



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