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New Afghan Security Unit to Police Dangerous Areas


Afghanistan's interior minister says plans are underway to form a U.S.-funded community program that will provide security in areas threatened by Taliban fighters.

Mohammad Hanif Atmar says the paramilitary-style force will use the same weapons as Afghan police, and will be assigned to protect schools, highways and other government institutions. He refused to say where the unit will operate, citing security concerns.

Atmar also says the security force will be under the command of the Interior Ministry, noting it is not a regional militia. He says the U.S. military in Afghanistan is supportive of the program.

In other news, International aid group, Oxfam, says the United States must shift its policy in Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis in the country.

Oxfam America's president Raymond Offenheiser says a strategy change is needed because of Afghanistan's growing insecurity, and with its civilians facing critical needs.

The British-based relief agency says it sent a memo to U.S. President Barack Obama outlining its concerns.

Violence has increased in Afghanistan in recent months, with more insurgent attacks. Oxfam estimates two-thousand civilians were killed last year. The group adds that up to five million Afghans are struggling to meet immediate food needs.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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