U.S. raid on Afghan weapons cache incites protests

An Afghan National Army soldier (ANA) inspects passengers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jalalabad province June 29, 2015. AFGHANISTAN-ISLAMIC-STATE/ REUTERS/Parwiz

KABUL: U.S. forces conducted a raid to destroy a cache of weapons north of Kabul, the Afghan capital, early Monday morning, a U.S. army spokesman said, giving rare details of unilateral activity in Afghanistan.

Afghan residents took to the streets in Parwan province in protest. Solo U.S. operations are legal under a bilateral security agreement the two nations signed last year, but the document specifies they occur only in exceptional circumstances.

The raids remain a divisive subject in Afghanistan. They were a key reason then-President Hamid Karzai refused in 2014 to sign a deal allowing U.S. forces to stay in the country. President Ashraf Ghani signed the agreement as soon as he took office in September.

"U.S. Forces conducted an operation ... to destroy a cache of munitions that could be used to conduct attacks against Afghans and Coalition Forces," public affairs director Colonel Brian Tribus said.

Local authorities complained they had not been consulted ahead of time.

"As the operation was launched without coordination of local authorities, it made people angry," a spokesman for the governor, Wahid Sediqqi, said.

U.S. army spokesman Tribus said the operation was conducted in keeping with bilateral military agreements.

Around 9,800 U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan, including around 3,000 troops who operate outside a NATO training mission that ends in 2016.

Little is known about the activities of U.S. counter-terrorism troops that have been authorized to continue fighting the Taliban and other militants after the NATO combat mission officially ended last year.





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