US military ‘planning to arm local militias to fight Taliban’

December 25th, 2008 - 12:34 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Dec 24 (DPA) US military commanders are planning to arm local militias to combat Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported Wednesday.The first such “local defence forces” would begin operating early next year in Wardak Province close to Kabul, an area where the resurgent Taliban had largely assumed control.

Similar militias would be quickly established nationwide if the move proved successful, the newspaper quoted unnamed senior US and Afghan officials as saying.

Such militias would be similar to those formed in Iraq, where Sunni fighters on the government payroll and operating as the “Awakening Councils” had helped greatly to reduce violence.

The newspaper report said, however, that there was “deep unease” among many Afghans that Pashtun-dominated militias could get out of control, terrorize local populations and turn against the government.

The US recently said it would be sending a further 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, nearly doubling its force there by next summer.

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