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NATO decides Afghan ministries too dangerous for its personnel

After what appears to be the latest murder of US personnel by Afghan security services, NATO pulled its people out of Afghan ministries.

By Staff writer / February 25, 2012

After 10 years of war, NATO has decided that the Afghan ministries it funds, and whose guards it has trained and armed, are too dangerous for its personnel. 

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That decision followed the murders of two American officers by what appears to have been an Afghan policemen in the Interior Ministry in Kabul. Afghan officials say the killer was probably enraged by the burning of Qurans by US troops at Bagram Air Base, an event that has led to angry mobs besieging NATO and UN compounds across the country. At least 20 Afghans have been killed in the rioting so far. 

The Quran burning also inspired an Afghan soldier to murder two US troops and wound four others on Thursday.

Gen.John Allen, the US commander of NATO forces inf Afghanistan, ordered all advisers withdrawn from Afghan ministries in response to the killings at the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Afghan police.

"For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul," General Allen said in statement. "We are committed to our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to reach our common goal of a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan in the near future."

US troops will probably soon be back in Afghan ministries, though count on new force protection protocols (US troops providing protection might be a place to start). But in the past few years the NATO effort has been intensely focused on training Afghan soldiers and police.

Rates of desertion, illiteracy, and drug abuse remain stubbornly high. And so-called green on blue incidents, the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) preferred term for Afghan troops murdering NATO troops, have also become increasingly common. It hasn't felt very peaceful, stable, and secure. 

The BBC reports that rioters in the northeastern city of Kunduz, about 300 miles from Kabul, set parts of the UN compound there on fire, as well as other buildings in the city. The situation for foreigners in Afghanistan is now extremely tense, with many in Kabul wondering if they should consider evacuating the city.

That the Quran burning would lead to this was sadly predictable.

The public fury unleashed by events is also a reminder that Afghans are chafing at the extended military occupation of the country. And now Mr. Allen has been forced to concede with his orders today that agents of the Afghan government, NATO's local ally in its war against the Taliban, can't be trusted.


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