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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Guards fire on civilians after Afghan blast

This article of which I just excerpt a small bit gives a glimpse into the problems within the Karzai government. It also shows that there are the same problems with private security contractors as in Iraq. Private contractors even provide security for Karzai himself.
The article also shows that it will be some time before the Afghan police will ever be able to provide security effectively on their own. It may also show that there are plots within the Karzai govt. to kill opposition politicians. The Taliban have claimed they are not responsible for the blast. They are usually not shy about these matters.

Karzai has been described as increasingly frustrated by the poor performance of the Afghan police, based in the Interior Ministry, and he has publicly accused the ministry of corruption and incompetence. He has also expressed exasperation at the tendency of foreign donors to bypass his government and deal directly with private contractors.

A particular source of complaint has been the dozens of private security companies that operate in Kabul and other cities with little oversight, often employing former Afghan guerrilla fighters. The Karzai government has raided several of these firms in recent weeks, seizing equipment and weapons.

"This bodyguard culture is killing Afghanistan, and we have to remove it," Karzai said in the interview.

A new report prepared for the United Nations by the group Swisspeace found that Afghan and foreign security firms in Afghanistan employ 18,500 to 28,000 men. It said that although the companies may provide security for their clients, they are viewed by the public as creating a "sense of distrust and insecurity." Reasons include their ties to local militia bosses, their heavily armed presence, their rudeness toward civilians and their alleged ties to crime.

In Baghlan, the security personnel at the scene of the bombing included a mix of local police and teams of bodyguards for each legislator and other officials; former militia commanders were among those in the crowd. When the blast occurred, witnesses said, gunfire erupted in many directions and lasted several minutes. When it was over, bodies were strewn across the scenic, tree-lined driveway and field surrounding the mill.

The protracted absence of a satisfactory official explanation of the incident has bred numerous rumors of political plots and counterplots. Many center on the most prominent victim, Sayed Mustafa Kazimi, 48, a member of parliament and former commerce minister who had recently become the spokesman for the main coalition opposing Karzai.

Kazimi was a rising political star from the country's long-suffering

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