Afghan Forces Take Security Control of Provincial Capital

Posted July 19th, 2011 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan forces have taken security control of the capital of eastern Laghman province from NATO troops, the latest step in the transition process as international forces begin leaving the country.

During a ceremony in Mehterlam Tuesday, U.S. forces handed control of the relatively-peaceful city to Afghan troops.

The provincial capital is one of seven areas in Afghanistan to be transferred to the Afghan government this month. It is the first phase of a plan that will see all of the country's security under Afghan control in the next three years.

International combat troops are set to completely withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and some foreign forces have already begun pulling out of the country.

Security control of Lashgar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province, is set to be handed over to local troops later this week. Afghan officials said seven police officers were killed by one of their colleagues at a checkpoint outside the city Monday.

In violence Tuesday, NATO said two of its service members died in separate bomb blasts in eastern Afghanistan.

South of Kabul, police said two bomb blasts within minutes of each other killed two civilians and wounded at least nine others in Ghazni city.

Violence has increased in Afghanistan since President Hamid Karzai announced the first phase of the security transition.

Despite the violence, the Afghan government official who heads the transition process said Tuesday that Afghan forces were fully capable of handling security in the seven areas to be transitioned first.