KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bomb killed nine people, mostly border policemen, Thursday in Afghanistan where militants continue to target government security forces taking over from withdrawing international troops.
No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Taliban and other insurgents have stepped up attacks against Afghan policemen and soldiers in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government. Afghans are increasingly taking the lead in operations as U.S. and other foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.
The afternoon blast occurred in Dangam district of Kunar province, near Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, according to a spokesman for the provincial government. Wasifullah Wasifi said seven border policemen and two civilians were killed, and two women were wounded in the attack.
President Hamid Karzai insists his forces are ready to take control of the country's security and has pushed for a faster handover by the international forces.
On Thursday, he demanded control of clandestine Afghan armed groups that are linked to U.S.-led forces amid complaints of abuses by the units.
His office ordered a delegation to identify all armed units that work with coalition forces and operate independently from the Afghan government. It gave international forces three months to hand them over.
Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said the order does not refer to the Afghan Local Police, which are village defense units overseen by the Interior Ministry. Faizi said Karzai was referring to "parallel structures" created by U.S. special operations forces, the CIA and other military branches.
The U.S.-led coalition did not issue an immediate response to Thursday's order.
The issue surfaced after Afghans in restive Wardak province complained of torture, illegal detentions and other abuses at the hands of such units. That prompted Karzai to issue an order on Sunday calling for U.S. special forces to be expelled from the province within two weeks despite fears that the move would leave the area and the neighboring Afghan capital more vulnerable to al-Qaida and other insurgents.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commander of all U.S. and allied forces, met with Karzai on Wednesday to discuss the issue. They agreed to work together to address the security concerns of the people of Wardak, a coalition statement said.
The coalition said earlier this week that it has found no evidence to support allegations that U.S. special forces were involved in the abuse of Afghan civilians in the area. It did not comment on the Afghans allegedly linked to the American troops.