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Afghan forces take lead on security from NATO

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Tuesday that Afghan troops will take over the lead role for the country’s security from US-led NATO forces, which will continue to provide training and support ahead of a full withdrawal by the end of 2014.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Tuesday that Afghan troops will be taking over responsibility for the country’s security from US-led NATO forces.

"Our security and defense forces will now be in the lead," Karzai said in a speech. "From here, all security responsibility and all security leadership will be taken by our brave forces."

The transfer marks a milestone in the nearly 12-year-long war, with US and NATO military forces moving into a supporting role before their full withdrawal by the end of 2014.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it was a proud day for Afghans.

"This is a day for Afghans to be proud and I'm proud to stand with you," he said. "It is because of the growing strength of your forces that we have been able to reach today's milestone. We can all be proud that we have delivered on this objective and that Afghan forces today are taking the lead on security."

The handover of the last 95 districts from NATO to Afghan forces includes many of the most volatile areas of south and east Afghanistan, where the Taliban have fought a bloody insurgency against the government since a US-led military offensive removed them from power in 2001.

The remaining 100,000 NATO forces will focus on the support and training of Afghan soldiers and police as they take the lead in the fight against Taliban and insurgent militants.

Alliance training has dramatically increased the size of Afghanistan's National Security Forces since 2009, bringing them up from 40,000 men and women six years ago to about 352,000 today.

Doubts remain, however, over the ability of the Afghan contingent to fight the Taliban effectively, and the NATO military coalition will retain a key role in logistics and air support, as well as in combat when required.

Deadly attack targets MP in Kabul

Karzai’s announcement came as a bomb targeting a prominent lawmaker in Kabul killed three civilians and wounded 24 other people, police said.

Mohammad Mohaqiq, the member of parliament who was targeted, escaped unhurt, aides and police said.

"Three civilians were killed and 24 others, including some guards, are wounded," Mohammad Zahir, the CID chief of Kabul, told reporters at the scene, adding that the attack involved an improvised explosive device.

The attack took place in front of the Independent Human Rights Commission office, a senior aide told AFP.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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