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NATO To Assume Afghanistan-Wide Security Role

Soldiers in the International Security & Assistance Force secure the site of a suicide blast in Kandahar, March 3 (epa) March 6, 2006 -- NATO's top commander today said that a 21,000-strong NATO-led international security force is preparing to assume responsibility for security all over Afghanistan by November.

U.S. General James Jones said that the move will shift responsibility for overall security in the country from the United States to NATO. He said the smaller U.S. force in Afghanistan will remain to carry out counterterrorism operations.

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said Canadian military forces will stay in Afghanistan for "some time to come," despite calls to exit after mounting troop casualties there.

Canada, operating under NATO, last month deployed 2,300 troops in Afghanistan's volatile Kandahar Province.

(AFP, Reuters)

Helmand Province Governor Comments

Helmand Province Governor Comments

U.S. Marines operating in Helmand Province in 2002 (epa)

RULING A RESTIVE LAND: On February 12, RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Jawaid Wafa spoke briefly with Helmand Province Governor MOHAMMAD DAOUD about the ongoing violence in his restive region on the border with Pakistan.

RFE/RL: Recently, there have been many clashes and attacks by insurgents in Helmand Province. What in your view facilitates these attacks, especially in Helmand?

Mohammad Daoud: This province has a 160-kilometer border with Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. In reality, armed people, armed terrorists, from the other side of the border cross the border into Helmand. They carry out attacks and return back. It is a serious problem in Helmand that within our borders there is neither tribal good will, nor are there are special military or security measures to prevent enemies from crossing back and forth.

RFE/RL: The attacks and clashes have not only been between government forces and insurgents. There have been various clashes in different parts of Helmand between police and purported drug smugglers. How do you explain this?

Daoud: Drug smugglers also use the border for their own purposes. They have opened markets on the border and process opium there. This is a serious problem along our border. We are in touch with our authorities on this problem.

RFE/RL: There are government border police patrol your border. What is their role in preventing illegal crossings?

Daoud: Along this 160-kilometer border, there are car routes, walking routes. We have border police, but unfortunately, either because of their own problems or because of weak administration, they have not been able to stop the crossing.


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