Gurkhas rescue Afghan governor from warlord's gunmen
By Hamida Ghafour in Kabul.
A contingent of British Army Gurkhas last week rescued an Afghan governor from a mansion overrun by forces loyal to a warlord allied to the international coalition.
General Rashid Dostum
As crowds rampaged through the grounds, eight men of the Royal Gurkha Rifles battled through the chaos into the mansion where Enayatullah Enayat, the governor of the remote Faryab Province, had taken refuge. Outside the front gate, troops loyal to the regional strongman, Abdul Rashid Dostum, set fire to the Gurkhas' vehicle, forcing them to bundle Mr Enayat out a back window.
Last week's stand-off brought British troops dangerously close to confrontation with the forces of Gen Dostum, a renegade adviser to President Hamid Karzai who is armed and funded by America. It was the second time in a month that a warlord had provoked a confrontation with the Afghan government as it struggles to establish the rule of law and continue the war on terror.
The latest insurgency, and the fact that Gen Dostum has US backing in return for fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban, have fuelled criticism that America's support of warlords is destabilising the Karzai regime.
To the dismay of local politicians, the US-led Coalition, which is under increasing pressure to capture Osama bin Laden, is planning to re-arm the militias. Under Coalition proposals, up to 6,000 men would be trained as "national guards" and fight in the southern and eastern provinces where Taliban insurgents are regrouping and attacking Coalition soldiers.
Gen Rahim Wardak, the deputy defence minister, pleaded with the Americans last night to stop supporting dissident warlords, saying that the Kabul government was determined to rid the country of them before elections this autumn.
In last week's incident, Gen Dostum's forces overran Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, forcing the government to send 750 troops from the fledgling Afghan national army to restore order. Last night, the warlord's men agreed to withdraw.