RealNews

Afghanistan aims to disarm private militias

It was just another weekend in Samangan province in northern Afghanistan: Two forces loyal to two warlords — both loyal to the central government — clashed overnight Friday, pulled back their militias Saturday, and then blamed each other for starting the fight. Skirmishes between small, armed factions allied to Ustad Atta Mohammad, a powerful ethnic Tajik commander, and his longtime rival, Deputy Defense Minister General Abdul Rashid Dostum, are part of Afghanistan’s violent landscape. But the country’s fledgling government and its United Nations advisers hope to make these clashes a thing of the past with a national disarmament program. The Afghan New Beginnings Program, a three-year project, aims to collect weapons from an estimated 100,000 fighters and smooth their path to civilian life, leaving the defense of the country in the hands of a new, centralized, ethnically balanced national army. Full Story

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