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Afghan President Extends Deadline for Closure of Security Firms

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, 25 Oct. 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he will extend a deadline by at least two months for private security firms to disband.

Mr. Karzai's office said Wednesday a new committee will prepare a timetable for the closure of the firms and will submit that recommendation to the president by November 15.

The firms were supposed to shut down in December.

Earlier this year, President Karzai issued a decree ordering private security firms out of the country by the end of the year, with the exception of those protecting embassies and military bases.

Mr. Karzai has said private guards undermine his nation's army and police. He wants Afghan forces to take over the task of protecting aid workers and projects.

On Wednesday, the special U.N. representative in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, reaffirmed his support for Mr. Karzai's decision to disband private security firms.

De Mistura issued a statement saying the international community accepts that it "must respond promptly to President Karzai's long-standing concerns about the conduct of private security companies."

In violence Wednesday, the NATO-led force in Afghanistan said a bombing killed one of its service members in the country's north.

NATO gave no other details about the attack.

This year has been the deadliest for international forces in Afghanistan since the start of the nine-year war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.