President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday held an emergency meeting on the security situation in eastern Nangarhar after yet another deadly attack in Jalalabad, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
At the meeting Ghani ordered security to be stepped up in the province and ordered the Afghan National Army (ANA) to work with the Afghan National Police (ANP) police to secure the province, according to the statement.
Until now the security of the province and Jalalabad has been the responsibility of the police.
Provincial governor, Hayatullah Hayat, and 201 Selab Military Corps commanders held a video conference while Haneef Atmar, Ghani’s National Security Advisor; the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief Masoom Stanekzai; Gen Tariq Shah Bahrami, Defence Minister; Wais Ahmad Barmak, Interior Minister and other security officials – along with the president.
The statement said that the provincial governor, commanders of Selab Military Corps and the provincial NDS chief briefed Ghani of the security situation.
The provincial officials said: “Daesh has suffered heavily in Nangarhar and because of this they have started destructive attacks in Jalalabad.”
According to the statement “they also offered their suggestions to prevent enemy attacks and improve the security situation in Nangarhar province.”
After the briefing, Ghani ordered local officials to address problems the families of victims are facing and emphasized that the army must work closely with police to ensure better security in the province until a special unit can be deployed to Jalalabad.
A the meeting, Ghani also ordered the provincial NDS office to provide security to all government organizations.
The statement also noted that a security plan will be announced shortly that will outline long-term security measures in the province.
The statement comes in the wake of a string of deadly attacks in the past two months.
The latest, on Tuesday, lasted over six hours and was carried out on a refugee center in Jalalabad. At least 15 people were killed in the incident.
Officials said a car bomb was detonated close to the entrance of the compound at about 11.30am and was followed by two gunmen storming the building.
A number of employees were able to escape during the course of the day, but many remained trapped inside.
However, immediately after Wednesday’s meeting, the Ministry of Defense handed over the conflict responsibility of Jalalabad security to the Afghan Army.
“The operational responsibility of Nangarhar province was handed over to the National Army,” said Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for the Defense Ministry. “We are sure that security will be ensured in Nangarhar as per people’s expectations.”
The Ministry of Interior Affairs meanwhile stressed the need for coordination between police and army personnel.
“One part of the duty has been handed to the Defense Ministry but in general, our mission is to support rule of law and we are doing our duty in Nangarhar,” said Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
Jalalabad has witnessed a spate of insurgent attacks in recent weeks.
An MP from the province, Zahir Qadeer, said they will make a collective decision on Nangarhar if the situation prevails.
“If the situation continues as it is, we - all the representatives of the east, tribal elders, religious scholars and civil society activists - will announce our final decision in this respect,” the lawmaker said.
“Serious attention should be paid (to Nangarhar). So far we have lost 70 percent of trade in Nangarhar and people are in a bad condition,” said Sayed Ikram, an MP from Nangarhar.
An investigation by TOLOnews last week shows that 160 people have lost their lives in insurgent attacks and crime incidents in Nangarhar in the last three months. The probe shows more than 490 people were also wounded during this period.