Kabul's nameless streets top challenge for police

KABUL Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:05pm IST

Afghan boys ride a bicycle under a plastic sheet during a rainy day in Kabul April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

Afghan boys ride a bicycle under a plastic sheet during a rainy day in Kabul April 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail

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KABUL (Reuters) - The maze of nameless streets and numberless houses in Afghanistan's capital is making it difficult to catch insurgents and thwart attacks, prompting Kabul's police chief to ask on Sunday that a system be installed.

Most of the city's dishevelled, dust-filled streets have no names, and of those that do, few are marked. For the majority of Kabul's four million inhabitants, navigating is a trick of good memory and a stream of questions to locals and passers-by.

"I have repeatedly asked the Mayor of Kabul to create a system," Ayoub Salangi told Reuters. "But it is a vast project and requires a lot of money."

Eleven years into the NATO-led war against Taliban insurgents, Kabul still has no official street map.

"From a security point of view, not having street names is devastating. There is no way to know where anyone is," said the 47-year-old lieutenant-general, who oversees Kabul's 14,000-strong police force.

Though Kabul was one of the first areas in Afghanistan to have security responsibilities transferred from NATO in 2008, confidence in the local force is eroding as most foreign troops look to leave the country by the end of 2014.

Kabul's security forces were praised by NATO mentors and local authorities earlier this month for repelling a coordinated attack by insurgents who took aim at foreign embassies and the parliament, suffering relatively low losses.

Salangi blamed weak Afghan intelligence for allowing the insurgents to slip under the watch of security forces and into the capital.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman and Hamid Shalizi Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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