Armed men ordered off Kabul streets

Thursday, January 10, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan -- In a bid to disarm a capital city rife with automatic rifles and rocket launchers, the new Afghan government said Wednesday it has ordered all armed men off the streets of Kabul within 72 hours.

However, the order may not go as far as the United Nations wants. U.N. officials say all Afghan soldiers should leave Kabul, something Interior Minister Younus Qanooni says isn't going to happen.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Qanooni said soldiers now in Kabul were ordered to their barracks. But at least three large military complexes are within the city limits.

Under the U.N.-brokered agreement that resulted in creation of Afghanistan's interim government, all Afghan soldiers were to be out of Kabul when international peacekeeping forces arrived in the capital. The first peacekeepers came to Kabul in December.

The pact was meant to avoid a return of the factional fighting that killed thousands of Afghans in the early 1990s.

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