KABUL, Jan 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Afghan authorities said on Wednesday they would roll out surveillance cameras across Kabul, seeking to tackle a wave of street crime and targeted assassinations in the capital.
Vice President Amrullah Saleh said the government would spend more than 100 million dollars on installing new cameras across the city of about six million, whose population has swelled in recent years as violence elsewhere has increased.
“The last time security cameras were properly installed in Kabul was in 2008. Now, the technology has developed significantly,” posted Saleh, who is in charge of security in Kabul, on his official Facebook page.
He said the plan was backed by the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
It follows the assassination of high-profile figures including the deputy governor of Kabul, journalists and civil society activists by unknown attackers in the city in recent months.
Saleh, a former intelligence chief, was himself targeted by a roadside bomb last year, an attack that killed at least 10 civilians but left him unharmed.
He has already ordered the removal of thousands of roadside vendors as part of an “urban discipline” drive in the capital that critics say unfairly impacts the poor.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said authorities were seeking to “curb criminal and terrorist activities” with the cameras.
Some human rights groups expressed worries over privacy, among them the head of the Peace and Human Rights Organization Mohammad Nizam.
“Under current circumstances, honestly, it would be quite difficult for the masses to have full faith and trust that their privacy would not be harmed with the installation of these security cameras,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Judging by the comments on Saleh’s Facebook post, however, many residents were more perturbed by the cost of the scheme in a city where growing numbers struggle to eke out a living.
"The whole of Kabul could be covered with thousands of state-of-the-art cameras for less than 3 million dollars," posted one, suggesting the remaining 97 million dollars be used to "provide jobs for the younger generation". (Reporting by Shadi Saif Khan, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org)