October 12, 2007 in Nation/World

Afghanistan closes 2 security companies

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

An Afghan private security guard stands outside a shop in Kabul on Thursday. Afghan authorities this week shut down two private security companies and suggested more closures were coming. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan – Echoing a growing problem in Iraq, Afghan authorities are cracking down on lucrative but largely unregulated security firms, some of which are suspected of murder.

Two private Afghan security companies were raided and shut down this week, and about a dozen more contractors – including some protecting embassies – would be closed soon, police and Western officials said Thursday.

The government is proposing new rules to tighten control over such firms, including some Western companies, amid concerns they intimidate Afghans, show disrespect to local security forces and don’t cooperate with authorities, according to a draft policy document obtained by the Associated Press.

The crackdown echoes efforts by authorities in Iraq to rein in private security contractors often accused of acting with impunity. Blackwater USA guards protecting a U.S. Embassy convoy in Baghdad allegedly killed 17 civilians last month in an incident that enraged Iraqi leaders, who are demanding millions in compensation for victims’ families and the removal of Blackwater in six months.

Dozens of security companies also operate in Afghanistan, some of them well-known U.S. firms such as Blackwater and Dyncorp, but also many others that may not be known even to Afghan government.

Authorities on Tuesday closed the Afghan-run security firms Watan and Caps, where 82 illegal weapons were found during the two raids in Kabul, police Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal said.

More companies – “maybe 13, maybe 14” – will be closed next week, including some whose employees may have committed murder or robberies, he said.


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