Afghan interior minister, spy chief quit in wake of attacksJune 6th, 2010 - 11:22 pm ICT by IANS
Kabul, June 6 (DPA) Afghanistan’s Interior Minister and its intelligence chief have resigned over their failure to prevent Taliban attacks on last week’s peace assembly in Kabul, the presidential palace announced Sunday.
President Hamid Karzai summoned Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Salah so they could explain the Taliban attacks, aimed at stopping the so-called peace jirga attended by Karzai and more than 1,600 delegates from across the country, the palace said in a statement.
“Since the explanations presented by the Interior Ministry and director for the National Security were not convincing … President Karzai … accepted the resignation of both security officials,” the statement read.
Until new appointments are made, the president has tasked Deputy Interior Minister Munir Mangal with overseeing that ministry.
Meanwhile, Ebrahim Spinzada, who already works in the National Directorate of Security - the country’s intelligence service - was appointed acting chief.
The resignation by two of the country’s most senior security officials comes amid increased attacks by Taliban-led insurgents and preparations by foreign troops for major anti-militant operations this year.
The US and NATO are increasing their total force numbers to 150,000 by the summer, a military escalation aimed at turning the tide of more than eight years of war against Taliban militants, who have become more powerful than ever.
The attacks by the Taliban on the first day of the so-called peace jirga did not stop the conference, but sent a clear message that the militants were able to attack despite the presence of more than 15,000 Afghan security forces.
Only four police forces and one of Karzai’s bodyguards were injured when Taliban fired at least three rockets and sent three suicide bombers to attack the site Wednesday. Two of the bombers were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces, while the third was taken into custody.
On Sunday, Zamarai Bashary, Interior Ministry spokesman, told a press conference that Afghan security forces arrested 15 Taliban militants, including foreign fighters and suicide bombers, during and before the start of the jirga.
He said that security forces found 700 rockets in different parts of Kabul, some of which were buried below ground and fixed to timers, he said.
“If the militants had succeeded in carrying out their attacks, one whole beautiful part of Kabul city would have been destroyed,” he added.
In another development, Karzai Sunday ordered a review of all cases involving Taliban suspects being held in Afghan jails in a bid to pave way for the release of those held “without legally binding evidence of conviction”.
It was not clear if the review would also include cases of suspected Taliban militants held at US detention facilities in Afghanistan.
According to the presidential palace statement, Karzai’s order was aimed at respecting the resolution of last week’s three-day peace jirga.
An inter-governmental committee, led by the justice minister, is to be established to “conduct a comprehensive review of the cases and release those held without sufficient legally binding criminal evidence”, the statement added.
The peace jirga in Kabul culminated Friday in the release of a declaration calling on the government to launch peace talks with the Taliban-led insurgents.
The assembly also called on the government and international forces to, as a goodwill gesture, “take immediate and solid action in freeing from various prisons those detained based on inaccurate information or unsubstantiated allegations.”
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