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9 army officers sacked after 21 soldiers killed Officers could face prosecution

KABUL, Feb 25, (AFP): Afghanistan on Tuesday sacked nine army officers for negligence after Taleban militants killed 21 soldiers and kidnapped several others in a raid on a border post near Pakistan. A brigade commander and military intelligence chiefs were among those to lose their jobs, the defence ministry said in a statement, added that the officers could also face prosecution. “The decision was taken by high council of defence after the army chief of staff briefed the council about the incident,” the ministry said. Hundreds of militants stormed the outpost in the eastern province of Kunar on Sunday, triggering a fourhour battle that left 21 soldiers dead and five others missing.

The pre-dawn attack, which was claimed by the Taleban, was the deadliest strike on Afghan troops in recent months, as 55,000 NATO combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of this year. Afghanistan’s army and police have taken over much of the responsibility for tackling the insurgency that erupted after the Taleban were toppled from power in 2001. But doubts remain about their ability to secure the country.

After the attack, President Hamid Karzai blamed Islamabad for failing to crack down on Taleban safe havens in Pakistan, where militant leaders seek sanctuary from Afghan and US military operations. Afghanistan and Pakistan regularly accuse each other of supporting militant attacks in the other’s country. Karzai’s comments came days after Islamabad said 23 of its kidnapped paramilitary soldiers had been killed on Afghan soil.

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