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News - Afghanistan

The Jihadi Council led by Afghanistan's Energy and Water Minister Mohammad Ismail Khan has started distributing weapons to its members in western Herat province, the provincial spokesman Mahiuddin Noori said Wednesday.

Noori warned that armed groups apart from the Afghan security forces are against the law and the distribution of weapons is a criminal offence.

"In the past several months, the non-government Council of the Mujahedeen [Jihadi Council] has distributed weapons to the residents which is against Afghanistan's laws," Noori said on Wednesday, adding that there is proof of this claim.

He showed a signed piece of paper with the Jihadi Council's appointment of a commander or "security official".

"Anyone who distributes weapons apart from the government commits a crime. It is against the national interests of the government and the country and it will be prosecuted. The justice and security organs are investigating this issue," he said.

However, Jihadi Council leaders denied the claim, although they confirmed that the men have grouped into "units" and appointed commanders.

"According to the order from Ismail Khan, we have already inaugurated 30 to 40 Mujahedeen units and assigned their commanders. Weapons were not distributed by unit commanders," Jihadi Council deputy chief Khuwaja Shamsuddin said Wednesday.

Herat's provincial governor Dawood Shah Saba emphasised yesterday that the residents of the western province will not accept militias.

"I want to clearly say that the people of Afghanistan rely on their sons as the police and army and national security department, which have the ability to protect the national sovereignty and honor of the country. They do not need any more for the agents of outsiders," the governor said in a gathering in Herat on Tuesday.

The Jihadi Council was formed in Herat last year under the leadership of former Jihadi commander and current Energy and Water Minister Mohammad Ismail Khan.

Last week he revealed that plans were underway to re-form the army which had fought the Soviet Russians in the 80s, claiming that because Nato had failed to secure Afghanistan against the insurgents, the Mujahedeen would do it themselves.

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