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US State Department to Guards Afghan President Karzai - 2002-08-24


The U-S State Department is taking over the responsibility of providing security for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, replacing American soldiers who have been guarding the Afghan leader.

U-S officials say the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service will provide security for Mr. Karzai, beginning next month and continuing for about a year, while Afghan personnel are trained for presidential guard duty.

U-S Special Operations forces were assigned to protect Mr. Karzai after Afghan vice president Abdul Qadir was assassinated last month.

/// OPT /// Mr. Qadir was gunned down in Kabul five months after (Abdul Rahman) the aviation and tourism minister of what was then Afghanistan's interim government was killed at the Kabul airport. /// END OPT ///

The Washington Post (newspaper) reports the switch in security arrangements was worked out by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who agreed it would be more appropriate for a head of state to be guarded by civilian security personnel.

In other developments in Afghanistan today (Saturday), a U-S military spokesman (Colonel Roger King) says four men were detained after U-S special forces came under attack from rocket-propelled grenades Friday in Kunar province. A grenade launcher was recovered after the attack. No casualties were reported.

The spokesman said another 12 people were detained in the same area (near Asadabad) on Thursday, but he gave no other details. He added that coalition forces discovered two weapons caches, including mortar ammunition and anti-personnel mines, (near Zormat) in eastern Paktia province on Friday.

One of the weapons seizures took place in a village (Nariza) where the American spokesman says seven women had hidden grenades for rocket launchers in their traditional Afghan burqas.

U-S - led coalition forces patrolling eastern Afghanistan are searching for holdout Taleban and Al-Qaida fighters.

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