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Two Britons charged over weapons in Afghanistan
by Staff Writers
Kabul (AFP) Jan 5, 2012

Two British men arrested in Afghanistan with 30 AK-47 assault rifles have been charged with weapons smuggling, a government spokesman said Thursday, but their employer denied the allegations.

The men, named as Julian Steele and James Davis, were paraded at a news conference which heard that they were detained while driving through Kabul and had told police they were working for a private security company, Garda World.

"The detainees did not have any documentation for carrying weapons, so we have charged them with illegal smuggling of weapons and have handed them to the attorney general for further investigation," said spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

"The National Police hereby also announce the dissolution of this company, and based on the order of the interior minister, the head and other officials of this company will be summoned to give account."

Garda World vice-president Nathalie de Champlain, based in Montreal, denied the accusations. "The weapons were taken to be tested at a shooting range before being purchased by Garda World and properly licensed," she said.

The company, which according to its website has offices in Canada, the United States, Britain, Dubai and operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen, is cooperating with Afghan authorities to resolve the matter, she added.

Two Afghan nationals travelling with the men were also detained. They were also shown to the media along with the weapons, but all four men stood with their backs to reporters.

Afghanistan is home to thousands of foreign private security personnel who provide services to international forces, diplomatic missions and aid organisations.

But relations with the authorities have deteriorated. President Hamid Karzai accuses the firms of breaking the law and taking business away from Afghans.

Perceptions that those working for security firms are little more than gun-toting mercenaries, roaming the countryside with impunity, have made them deeply unpopular among Afghans.


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Eight NATO troops killed in Afghanistan blasts
Kabul (AFP) Jan 6, 2012 - Eight NATO soldiers have been killed in a series of bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, the military said Friday.

Three died on Thursday, another lost his life in a blast on Friday and four more were killed in second attack later the same day.

NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force did not release the nationalities of the soldiers, in keeping with policy.

Details would be released by the soldiers' home countries, a spokesman said.

More than 560 foreign troops were killed last year in Afghanistan, where some 130,000 US-led troops are fighting an insurgency by hardline Taliban Islamists against the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.


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NATO supplies pile up at Pakistan port
Karachi (AFP) Jan 2, 2012
Tonnes of supplies bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan are piling up at the Pakistani port of Karachi following the blockade imposed after a deadly air strike in November, officials said Monday. Thousands of trucks and military vehicles are stuck at the port, as relations between Washington and Islamabad flounder following the border incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. "At prese ... read more

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