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Hundreds of Afghan soldiers detained, sacked for insurgent links | THE JEENYUS CORNER


By Mirwais Harooni

(Reuters) – The Afghan army has detained or sacked hundreds of soldiers for having links to insurgents, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, as it tries to stem the rising number of so-called insider attacks.

It made the announcement as NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express his concern over the attacks, in which Afghan servicemen have killed at least 45 NATO-led troops this year, including 15 in August, compared with 35 for all of last year.

“Hundreds were sacked or detained after showing links with insurgents. In some cases we had evidence against them, in others we were simply suspicious,” Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told reporters in Kabul.

“Using an army uniform against foreign forces is a serious point of concern not only for the Defense Ministry but for the whole Afghan government,” Azimi said, adding that Karzai had ordered Afghan forces to devise ways to stop insider attacks.

Azimi declined to say whether the detained and fired soldiers were from Taliban strongholds in the south and east, saying they were from all over the country.

In a briefing with Pentagon reporters, Lieutenant General James Terry, the deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said efforts to double-check vetting of the some 350,000 Afghan national security forces would take time but would not slow the pace of NATO operations.

NATO only attributes about a quarter of insider attacks to the Taliban and it is unclear how much vetting will do to limit the number of killings. Terry blamed Afghanistan’s “gun culture” for many of the insider attacks.

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