Afghanistan bars security firms after civilian deaths

Last Updated: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 23:16

Kabul: Afghanistan has barred two private
security firms from one of the country`s most dangerous
highways after their guards shot and killed two civilians, the
government said Sunday.

The victims were killed accidentally in separate
incidents on the road that connects the Afghan capital Kabul
to the south -- the heartland of the Taliban militants waging
a bloody insurgency against the Western-backed government.
Civilian deaths are a highly sensitive issue in
Afghanistan and interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary
said both companies had also been ordered to pay compensation
to the victims` families.

"The perpetrators of both incidents have been arrested
and are being prosecuted," he told journalists at a press
conference in Kabul following the killings, which both
occurred in the last two weeks.

"The ministry of interior warns all private security
firms to conduct their operations within the boundaries of the
law and avoid shooting at people."

The two firms, Compass and Watan Risk Management, are
among 52 private security companies registered to operate in
Afghanistan, where security has deteriorated in recent years.
Their clients include NATO and US-led forces, aid
agencies and private businesses, which use them to provide
armed escorts for convoys travelling on dangerous roads.

Civilian deaths caused by foreign forces fell 28 per
cent last year, the United Nations has said.

But such incidents continue to undermine efforts to
win Afghan hearts and minds and are a source of tension
between the Afghan government and foreign forces.

The United States and allies are ordering thousands of
extra troops to Afghanistan, where foreign troop numbers are
set to peak at 150,000 by August, in a bid to reverse the
Taliban insurgency as quickly as possible.

PTI

First Published: Sunday, May 9, 2010 - 23:16

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