Afghan president sacks, shifts 80 top policemen after riots
Kabul, June 3, 2006 (AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has fired dozens of top police officials, including the Kabul police chief, days after anti-US riots raged out of control in the capital for hours, officials have said.
About 34 police commanders have been sacked and nearly 50 others were shifted to other posts, a high-ranking interior ministry official said under condition of anonymity.
The president's office said the reshuffle was part of long-planned reform of the police service that had been launched before Monday's riots.
"It was done under the interior ministry reform programme which has been under way for months," said Khaleeq Ahmad, one of the spokesmen for the president.
But the official in the interior ministry, which handles police matters, said some of the changes were expedited after Monday's riots and others were prompted by the violence.
"It was an old programme. But the riots speeded it up," the official said.
Among those who were sacked was Kabul police chief Jamil Junbish, he said. "The police were very weak on Monday. I think part of the reason he was sacked was to do with riots," the official said.
The officer was replaced by highway city police chief Amanullah Gozar, the interior ministry said.
The head of Kabul 's quick reaction police force, General Mahbob Amiri, told AFP he had also lost his job.
The violence, sparked by an accident involving a US military truck which killed civilians, swept through the capital for hours before police and the army were able to restore order by late afternoon.
Several buildings, cars and police posts were torched and offices ransacked as demonstrators rampaged through the capital chanting "Death to America , Death to Karzai."
Initial inquiries by a commission set up by Karzai to pass the government's condolences on to families affected by the violence found that 13 people were killed -- three in the accident and 10 from gunfire, one of the commission members said.
Moheedin Balooch, a religious advisor to the president, would not say if the 10 included people shot by US troops at the accident site.
"Our work is not over. It's possible (the figures will rise)," he said.
Two other commissions have been set up in the aftermath of the violence: one to assess the damage and another to identify those who turned the demonstrations violent or were involved in looting.
Witnesses said US troops shot dead people in an angry mob at the crash site, unleashing the protests during which Afghan security forces had also shot at some of the demonstrators.
It was the worst violence in the battle-damaged capital since the fanatical Taliban movement was forced from power in 2001 by a coalition led by the United States .
The US-led coalition has admitted its soldiers had "used their weapons in self-defence" and said it was investigating what else had happened.
The capital has been under a six-hour overnight curfew since Monday's unrest with extra security forces and armoured vehicles on the streets.
The flare-up of violence surprised many, including in the large expatriate community in the city, who had thought Kabul was relatively stable compared to the insurgency wracked southern and eastern parts of the country.
Some analysts said it tapped into growing discontent with US troops who drive and act aggressively in the city. A coalition strike in the south last month killed around 34 civilians, according to a rights group and witnesses.
Overcrowded and congested Kabul is also home to thousands of unemployed people who complain there has been little improvement in their lives since the Taliban fell despite the billions of dollars of aid that have been pumped into the country.