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article imageWardak protesters demand US special forces leave province

By Ken Hanly     Mar 16, 2013 in Politics
Kabul - Hundreds of residents from Wardak province came to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to protest in front of the parliament, demanding that Karzai enforce his order that US Special Forces pull out of the province.
The residents also have demanded the release of nine local people whom they believe are being held by US forces according to the chief of Kabul police's criminal investigation unit. General Mohammed Zahir said that the demonstration was peaceful but the protesters were shouting anti-US slogans. The demonstrators carried banners in Pashto, Dari, and English with such slogans as, "I want my father," and "We want our prisoners back from the government dead or alive." Protester Abdul Hadi said: “Americans and U.S. special operations forces must leave." The US has acknowledged that four men were arrested in a joint US-Afghan raid but claimed to have no information on the other five who were detained.
While President Karzai had demanded the special forces leave over a week ago, he agreed to give US commander Gen. Joseph Dunford more time to arrange for security to be maintained in Wardak. Militants often travel through Wardak on their way to Kabul.
There are mounting allegations of abuse but the actual abuses seem to be carried out by "irregular" Afghan groups that are funded by the US and trained by the Special Forces as part of the US counter insurgency strategy. US officials claim there is no evidence of the US troops being involved in any abuses.
The presidential palace issued a statement back in February noting that the disappearance of nine villagers, including seven truck drivers and two school teachers, as one example of the abuses. The whereabouts of the kidnapped villagers is still not known but the US sponsored local police group is regarded as responsible by local officials. The statement read further:"In a separate incident, a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge."
As well as ordering the special forces out of Wardak, Karzai has given three months for all the irregular forces established by NATO to be put under government control. There are still about 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Obama will bring about 34,000 home this year as more responsibility for security is passed over to the Afghans. There are still no arrangements made for troops to stay after 2014.
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