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Afghan Government Disbands Dozens of Private Security Firms

An Afghan policeman looks at weapons confiscated from private security companies, in Kabul, Afghanistan (File Photo - 05 Oct 2010)

The Afghan government says it is determined to shut down all private security companies operating in the country and has already disbanded 57 of them.

The Interior Ministry official in charge of the process, General Abdul Manan Farahi, said Tuesday the targeted companies, all of which are Afghan, include unregistered and illegal firms that have broken domestic laws. He said more than 3,000 personnel have been disbanded and their weapons confiscated.

Farahi said companies protecting aid and development projects and diplomatic missions would be able to continue operating but only within the premises they are guarding. He also said the headquarters of remaining companies have been moved outside the capital, Kabul.

According to the government's plan, all other employers of private guards will gradually begin to use a special police unit called the Afghan Public Protection Force.

Earlier this month, Farahi said 52 legally registered security companies employing more than 26,000 people, including 3,400 foreigners, would be allowed to remain in operation.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered private security firms in August to end operations within four months. In October, he extended the deadline under pressure from the West. Mr. Karzai has said the firms undermine the country's army and police.

Private security firms have been a source of controversy since the U.S.- led intervention in Afghanistan in 2001. Some private security teams have been accused of killing civilians without facing punishment.

Meanwhile, NATO said one of its service members was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. The military coalition said the attack occurred Tuesday, but provided no further details.