New control centre to fight rise in attacks in Afghan capital

  • World
  • Friday, 19 Dec 2014

Afghan security forces inspect at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - A new control centre is to be created to coordinate security forces and fight a rise in Taliban attacks in Kabul, the capital's police chief said on Thursday, hours after a bomb killed a police officer and injured three in the city.

As most foreign troops withdraw this month, Afghanistan has seen waves of suicide bombings and commando-style assaults by the Islamist insurgents.

"Under previous governments, and also during the Soviets, we had a garrison in place which was useful and that fought against the mujahideen," General Abdul Rahman Rahimi told Reuters.

Rahimi said the new control centre would have the authority to command and coordinate a joint response by Afghanistan's army, police and intelligence force in the event of an attack.

"There was no systematic coordination in place," the police chief said. "In case of attacks in the city or joint operations, the garrison will be in charge."

The idea for a new control centre was first announced by the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani on Sunday.

Rahimi could not say when the new garrison would be formed but said its members would soon be appointed by the president, who has vowed a security shakeup in the capital to counter the surge in attacks.

Recent incidents include two assaults on foreign guest houses, several army bus bombings and a deadly blast that killed a German at a French cultural centre packed with people attending a performance. The decline in security cost Rahimi's predecessor his job.

"The attacks will continue so long as there is no political agreement to pressure (the Taliban)," the new police chief said.

"There are threats of terrorist attacks and organized crime in the city every minute. We are on high alert and we have increased our patrols," he said.

Two U.S. soldiers and seven Afghan soldiers were killed in separate attacks in and around Kabul on Saturday.

Police tried to intercept Thursday's attack, as a suicide bomber approached the city in a vehicle laden with explosives, the interior ministry said.

"A patrol was sent around 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. to look for the suicide car bomber, but unfortunately the bomber was able to detonate his explosives," spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Reuters.

The attack took place in a village just beyond the airport, he said.

(Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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