(AFP) – Nov 21, 2007
KABUL (AFP) — Authorities in Afghanistan want to close down all private security firms operating in the country, many of them illegally, President Hamid Karzai's office said.
About nine unlicensed companies have already been shut down in a crackdown that has been under way in Kabul for weeks, according to city police.
Under the constitution "only the Afghan government has the right of having and handling weapons, so private companies are against the constitution," the president's spokesman Siamak Hirawi told AFP late Wednesday.
A cabinet meeting Monday argued that the dozens of private security firms were illegal and a source of criminality.
"The session decided that in the long term all private companies should be shut down," he said.
"But for the time being a small number of private companies which can prepare themselves to meet the regulations put in place by the ministry of interior will be allowed temporary licences."
Only a "handful" of such companies would be allowed to operate mainly for the use of international organisations and the United Nations, he said.
"In the long run, when Afghan security forces have the capacity to replace them, they will be replaced by government security personnel, police."
Insecurity in Afghanistan has sharply increased because of a rise in crime and an insurgency led by the extremist Taliban who held power until 2001.
A range of security companies are operating in Afghanistan, from US-based Blackwater to smaller Afghan firm, some of them linked to militias or former warlords.
They guard embassies and other premises or act as bodyguards, while some, like the US-based DynCorp, also train Afghan police.
A report released this month by the Swisspeace research institute said that while about 90 firms could be identified by name, only 35 had registered with the government.
Some are alleged to be involved in extortion, kidnapping and the smuggling of drugs, it said.
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