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NATO troops hand over Afghanistan’s northern capital

Kabul, July 24 ( ): After the handing of Kandhar ,Afghanistan’s northern capital, Mazar-i-Sharif was handed over by NATO to local forces. Mazar-i-Sharif is the sixth of seven areas that will be handed back to the Afghan forces by the NATO. On the eve of the handing over a suicide bomber killed four persons. Security analysts feel that this showed the vulnerability of the province to Taliban forces operating across the borders.

The city was considered safest in Afghan last April. The news of pastor burning the Koran in US sparked violent demonstrations which led to seven foreigners being killed in the UN building. This led to German troops taking control under the NATO flag and combating the fundamentalists. A handover ceremony was held at the Afghan army’s headquarters, attended by cabinet ministers and the German ambassador, with a NATO flag lowered and an Afghan flag raised after local soldiers sung the national anthem.

150,000 NATO-led troops begin a gradual withdrawal designed to recall all foreign combat troops by the end of 2014. On Friday Canadian combat troops withdrew from Kandhar and handed over charge to Afghan troops. As the Canadian General was listing out the achievements, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a powerful but controversial leader in Kandahar, was assassinated by a supposedly loyal bodyguard and a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up at a memorial held in his honor. While the Taliban has claimed responsibility, there are suggestions the attack may have been personal.

The fact that some 5,000 kids in two of the most dangerous districts in Kandahar are attending classes at one of 41 new schools, he suggested, is the sort of thing that will keep such forces away. So too is the fact that Tarnak Farms, the former al-Qaida training camp used by Osama bin Laden himself, is now an “experimental farm” testing how water from the Dahla Dam — a “signature” Canadian rehabilitation project — can be used to grow wheat and barley rather than opium”, said the outgoing General.

“Where we were operating is no longer a failed region from which al-Qaida can export terror to Canada,” Genera lNatynczyk said.