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'Leave Taleban to Afghans' call

An Afghan National Army soldier on patrol in Helmand. File photo (15/12/07)
The Afghan National Army works alongside Nato forces

An influential Afghan minister has called on the West to allow local communities in Afghanistan to take over the fight against the Taleban.

Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said the answer lay in what he called the "Afghanisation" of security.

Mr Atmar, who is a close ally of President Hamid Karzai, said Afghan forces needed more training.

In the latest violence, officials say the Taleban killed six people in the western province of Herat.

Traditional system

While Nato leaders have been calling for member countries to commit more troops to Afghanistan, Mr Atmar told the BBC that this was not the answer.

He says a traditional Afghan system, with local communities being allowed to practice self-defence, would be more effective.

He believes that Afghan forces could defeat the Taleban in five years, instead of the 15 he believes Nato would need.

And with at least 10 times as much money being spent on foreign troops as on Afghan forces, he believes that money could be better spent in training and providing resources.

The BBC's Elettra Neysmith says "Afghanisation" is a popular concept at the moment within Nato.

She says it has been cynically described as a "get out of jail free" card for Western countries mired in the deepening Taleban insurgency.

But Mr Atmar says the "Afghanisation" of security has worked successfully in provinces like Khost and Paktia in the south-east, where the Taleban are active.

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