Afghanistan

Faction leaders in northern Afghanistan hold security talks, UN reports

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Faction leaders in northern Afghanistan have held talks aimed at resuming the stalled disarmament process in parts of that region, a United Nations spokesman in Kabul reported today.
During their meeting on Saturday, General Abdul Rashid Dostum and General Ustad Atta Mohammad also discussed the 21 March New Year celebration, which is expected to attract "an extremely large number of visitors" to the Shrine of Ali in Mazar-i Sharif, according to David Singh of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

The talks are aimed at resuming disarmament in Maymana, which is located in Faryab Province.

"Both leaders have agreed that finalization of this exercise is now a priority as it will decrease tensions and pave the way for disarmament in Sar-i Pul Province as well as in Chimtal, Balkh and Chaharbolak districts of Balkh province," Mr. Singh said.

At their meeting, the leaders also agreed to establish a 14-member commission to address security in Mazar-e-Sharif for the upcoming New Year celebration.

Mr. Singh also reported on a carjacking in Paktika, where eight armed men opened fire on a two-vehicle UN convoy headed from Waza-Khan to Khair-Kot. "The men fired at the first vehicle, an unmarked hired car with two officials from the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and one national staff member of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) inside," he said. The second car, a WFP vehicle carrying three international staff members, immediately headed back to Waza-Khan.

Although the three occupants of the first car were unharmed, they were reportedly "threatened and harassed" by the armed men, whose motive remains unknown, Mr. Singh said. The bullet-ridden vehicle has since been recovered and is now in Kabul, but the perpetrators have not been caught and investigations are ongoing, while road movements in the area remain suspended.