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US forces hand over control of base in Afghan province



Published: Sun, March 31, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Los Angeles Times

KABUL

U.S. military leaders formally handed over security responsibilities to Afghan troops Saturday in an area of Wardak province that was the focus of claims by President Hamid Karzai that American troops were responsible for kidnappings and human-rights abuses.

The transfer of a base in the Nerkh district of Wardak province to Afghan troops came 10 days after Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, reached an agreement with Karzai to carry out the handover.

Karzai initially wanted all American special-forces personnel out of Wardak but later agreed to limit the immediate handover to Nerkh.

“As we pledged, our forces have transitioned Nerkh district to Afghan national- security forces, and they have now assumed full responsibility for security in this key district,” Dunford said in a prepared statement. “The rest of Wardak will continue to transition over time, as Afghan forces continue to grow in capability and capacity.”

Karzai further strained relations between Kabul and Washington by claiming that American special forces and U.S.-trained Afghan police in Wardak recently had kidnapped nine villagers from Nerkh and had mutilated the body of another villager from another district after killing him.

U.S. military leaders adamantly denied the allegations. Local law- enforcement and provincial officials in Wardak also have said there was no basis for Karzai’s accusations.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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