Afghan police tell foreigners in Kabul to stay in or hire guards

KABUL- Police in the Afghan capital have told foreigners living outside protected compounds to travel with guards, after the kidnapping of an Indian aid worker last week added to a growing sense of insecurity in Kabul.

The push is for the safety of residents, said Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of the Kabul police Criminal Investigation Department.

"All foreign citizens and their offices in Afghanistan are terrorists' targets ... the kidnapping and criminal threat is very serious," he told Reuters. "This will be prevented only if they use security guards and escorts."

One document distributed by Obaidi's officers to private homes and organizations instructs residents to take a variety of security measures, including using armed police escorts if necessary.

But national security officials have distanced themselves from the police efforts, after critics complained that the measures were counterproductive and did not reduce the threats facing residents.

In the past week, foreign workers have reported police and intelligence agents stopping their cars, being taken to police stations, questioned about personal information, filmed and photographed.

The Interior Ministry was not involved in the decision to use such tactics, and plans to work with city police to change their security measures, said spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.