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US Troops Protect Afghan President - 2002-07-22

A presidential spokesman in Afghanistan says U.S. troops are being deployed to guard the palace of President Hamid Karzai. The deployment follows the recent assassination of Afghanistan's vice president.

Presidential spokesman Fazil Akbar says the U.S. troops, including special forces, are taking over protection of President Karzai at his official palace in Kabul.

Mr. Akbar says the measure has been approved by the cabinet, amid growing fears for the president's security. Senior officials of the new Afghan government have been worried about their personal safety since the unsolved assassination earlier this month of Vice President Abdul Qadir. He was the second cabinet minister assassinated in the past six months.

U.S. military spokesmen in Afghanistan have declined to comment on the reported deployment.

President Karzai's bodyguards have been provided by the defense minister, Mohammed Fahim, a powerful militia commander who some see as a potential rival to the president.