Kabul, Nov 28(ANI): Afghan forces will assume control of security in 18 areas of the country from NATO, which would bring half of the country's population under the government's nominal authority.
The move marks a step further in the transition, which is intended to handover security to Afghan authorities, after the withdrawal of American combat troops and NATO forces by 2014.
This stage of transition includes many areas, which are still targeted by Taliban insurgents like central Helmand Province, several districts in Wardak Province and Sarobi District, unlike the first phase of peaceful transition.
Afghan security forces would take over five provinces and 13 districts in this stage, as compared to the first phase when two provinces, Bamian and Panjshir came under the control of security forces.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesperson Aimal Faizi said Kandahar would not be taken over in this stage as NATO officials are reluctant to turn over the city,which is the traditional Taliban stronghold.
District Governor Mohammad Haqbeen said though the district centre was under government control, the Taliban continued to execute attacks on the highway.
He, however, said the Afghan Government is ready to undertake responsibility.
"We want that responsibility, and we are ready for that responsibility. There are still some problems in some areas, but we can handle them," The New York Times quoted Haqbeen, as saying.
District Police Chief Colonel Ahmadullah Oria said Afghanistan might still need international community for "training, for mentoring and for support when necessary."
Afghan leaders welcomed the transition but a tribal elder, Haji Abdul Rahman Sabir said it was not a vindication of the Marine invasion. (ANI)