Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar seeks end to private militias

There seems to be a virtual news blackout on the incident in which a group hired by the US to engage in anti-terrorist actions shot and killed the police chief of Kandadhar and a number of other officers. The news in Afghanistan is all about a new US offensive and the capture of a US soldier. The killing of the Kandahar police chief and other officers apparently is not news. Or perhaps it is not news that mainstream media care to cover! Who needs censorship when the news media already filters out much of what the military does not want covered. Since the story broke on June 29, I cannot find any more new stories through Google than this one. Information about who these people are and when their supposed trial will begin is completely lacking. There has never been any explanation of why these people will face a military trial when the military disavows any connection with them except that they may hire them for shadow operations. Everyone who counts wants this story to go away.

This is from the news-gazette.

Afghan minister seeking end to private 'militias'
By The Associated Press
Tuesday June 30, 2009
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghanistan's interior minister called Tuesday for the disbanding of private security forces after a group of guards that has worked for the U.S. military was involved in the killing of a provincial police chief in the country's south.
In eastern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a suicide bomber wearing a burqa killed a police officer and a girl in an attack on a key Afghan-Pakistan border crossing, officials said.
The killing Monday of Kandahar's top police officer spotlighted the role of shadowy armed groups that frequently operate alongside international military and security forces – but are not part of known Afghan government security structures.
Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said that the 41 Afghan gunmen involved in the killing of Kandahar Police Chief Matiullah Qati had been brought Tuesday to Kabul, the capital, where they will be put on trial.
Authorities in Kabul showed the detainees to reporters in one of the corridors inside the Interior Ministry. They appeared to be young men, in their 20s. Some had their hands tied behind their back with a rope, but majority were not handcuffed. All wore traditional Afghan clothes, as they faced the dimly lit corridor walls.
During a visit to Kandahar on Tuesday, Atmar said that the various private security forces, which he called "militias," should be disbanded and folded into the legitimate Afghan security structures.
It is unclear how many private militias operate in Afghanistan – or who, exactly, runs them. However, with violence spiraling in much of the country, foreigners and Afghans alike have increasingly turned to such groups for security.
Little is known about the group involved in the Monday gunbattle, in which Qati and five other officers were killed. Afghan officials would not comment on who they are.
U.S. military spokesman, Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, said those involved in the incident "frequently worked with the U.S. military operations," but during the Monday shooting were not acting "in any way, shape or form with the knowledge or support of U.S. forces."
"Their actions yesterday are inexcusable, and they did that on their own," Naranjo said.
Naranjo would not give any specifics about the nature of the operations that these forces were involved in, or their legal status.
The armed group had attempted to free a prisoner held by Afghan authorities inside a government complex in Kandahar shortly before the incident Monday.
The shooting Monday also dealt a blow to security efforts in the southern province from which Taliban leader Mullah Omar once ruled the country.
U.S. soldiers are deploying to Kandahar later this summer, part of a surge that will see the total number of American forces in the country brought to 68,000, more than double the 32,000 troops here last year.
Associated Press reporters Fisnik Abrashi and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.


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