Britons with assault rifles held in Kabul


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The Independent Online

Two British men and their Afghan driver and interpreter, all of whom work for a private security firm, have been arrested in Kabul for carrying illegal weapons, officials said yesterday.

Sediq Sediqi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the four were arrested on Tuesday morning. Police stopped and searched the car and discovered 30 AK-47 rifles and ammunition. Officers asked the men for the guns' registration documents but they were unable to provide them.

The police have conducted a preliminary investigation into the four men, Mr Sediqi said. Part of the probe was into whether the weapons had had their serial numbers removed. The case will be handed over to the Attorney General's Office for further investigation.

Mr Sediqi added that the details of the men's names, as well as the firm they work for, would be released as soon as the case is handed over to the Attorney General.

Dozens of private security companies started operating in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban regime 10 years ago, providing protection to businesses, aid groups and government organisations. But these outfits have generated considerable resentment among the Afghan public, particularly because of the heavy-handed manner in which some employees are perceived to conduct themselves.

President Hamid Karzai has also said these firms hinder the development of the national forces and in March 2010 ordered that they be closed by that year's end. This was later postponed until March 2012.

A total of 57 private security companies have already been dissolved and their property – including some 3,200 weapons and 35 vehicles – has been appropriated by the Ministry of Interior, Mr Sediqi said. Of the firms that are still operating, 23 are Afghan and 23 are foreign.