July 26, 2010 / 10:18 AM / 10 years ago

Militias a U.S. plot to split Afghanistan: Taliban

KABUL (Reuters) - The creation of local militias, such as a newly announced police unit, is an attempt by the United States to split up Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of its troops, the Taliban said on Monday.

Earlier this month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai approved a controversial U.S. plan for a new local defense force to help tackle a Taliban insurgency which is spreading despite the presence of some 150,000 foreign troops.

Accountable to the Interior Ministry, the Local Police Force (LPF) will help the Afghan National Police protect rural areas from attacks by insurgents.

Similar schemes have been started before but fizzled out.

The formation of the LPF is a sensitive issue for Afghans, who remember the notorious militias mobilized by the Soviets during their decade-long occupation in the 1980s, and the role they played in the bloody civil war that followed.

“The attempt by U.S. invaders to set up local militia is an indirect plot to disintegrate Afghanistan,” the Taliban said in a statement on their website (http.alemara.co.cc/).

Ousted from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, the Taliban said the foreign forces were facing “disgraceful defeat” in the Afghan war and wanted to leave it in a way that “it should remain in continuous war one way or the other”.

The government has yet to finalize the LPF. Its formation comes against a backdrop of the worst period of violence in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ouster and ahead of parliamentary elections on September 18. Nearly 2,000 foreign service members have died in the Afghan conflict — more than 130 since June — as well as scores more Afghan troops, civilians and insurgents.

Washington plans to scale down the presence of its troops in Afghanistan from mid-2011. Afghanistan hopes to take responsibility for security in all parts of the country by 2014.

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