Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul.

Mohammad Ismail/Reuters/Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

Canadian officials in Afghanistan have been ordered to stay out of government buildings after two senior American officers were killed inside a supposedly secure ministry office in Kabul.

The measures come amid a weekend of violence and anti-Western protests in the country following the inadvertent burning last week of Korans at an American military base near Kabul.

Despite an earlier apology by U.S. President Barack Obama and a plea by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for calm, violence continued over the weekend. Seven American soldiers were injured Sunday when a grenade was thrown at their base in northern Afghanistan where they were training Afghan Local Police force members.

Story continues below advertisement

On Saturday, the two American officials were shot, reportedly at close range, by a 25-year-old Afghan police officer inside the Afghan Ministry of Interior, a building in central Kabul inside a normally tight security cordon of police, barriers and armoured vehicles. A nation-wide manhunt was launched Sunday for the gunman.

Foreign Affairs says that all Canadians are safe and that no one was near the Afghan Ministry of Interior building where the shootings occurred.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Yohan Rodericks, said that the 70 staff members at the Canadian Embassy have suspended meetings at Afghan ministries, while the department assesses the situation.

In addition, civilian police advisors working in the ministries, will not be going into their workplaces. He said there are about 45 Canadian police officers in Afghanistan. But the biggest Canadian contingent are the 950 military trainers, who are helping train Afghan national security forces. They are working in three locations in and around Kabul.

Other NATO allies with civilian and military personnel in Afghanistan, including the United States, France and German, have taken similar action in putting their advisors on lockdown in reaction to the shootings.

A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the Afghan defence and interior ministers were postponing scheduled trips to the United States this week while consulting with other Afghan leaders on protecting allied forces and quelling the violence.

The spasm of violence, and the attack inside the Ministry of Interior, has provoked fears amongst some observers that relations between Afghans and their NATO allies will be jeopardized – and there are further concerns this could strain the NATO training mission of Afghan's national security forces in which Canada is a major player.

Story continues below advertisement

But some foreigners who have long worked with the fledgling Afghan government said it is too early to say.

"It remains to be seen whether the atmosphere will be different now on and if there will be the same degree of trust as before," said Tonita Murray, a former director general of the Canadian Police College who has worked for several years as an advisor to an Afghan ministry.

But Ms. Murray, who says she was advised not to go to work for several days, says she "expects things to return to normal soon and I will go back to my office as usual."

"I don't think things are any more unsafe for internationals than normal, except for the military," she added. Her office is close to where the shootings took place and she said she believes it's a wise move to withdraw the advisors from the ministries temporarily.

"It allows a cooling off period, a chance for the military to relax and feel less vulnerable, and for the leaders on both sides to discuss what should be done," she said.

In an interview on CNN, Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, said he is hoping that President Karzai's pleas for calm will help the situation improve and that taking out the advisors will allow "things to calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere."

Story continues below advertisement

But he also made clear that the U.S. is committed to its partnership with the Afghan government.

Canada, too, is not about to change its focus in Afghanistan, according to Mr. Rodericks, the Foreign Affairs spokesman. There is no plan, he said, to bring people home.

"Now, I think we really just have to follow the situation," he said. "Our embassy personnel and Foreign Affairs will make determinations as the situation changes."

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird did not comment. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae noted that "security is always an issue in Afghanistan and Kabul is clearly being targeted for activities by the Taliban intended to undermine confidence and increase demands for a NATO pull-out."

Mr. Rae said Canada's position should continue to be "one of working in full co-operation with NATO, the UN, and the Afghan government on the transition to full Afghan control."



With a report from Reuters

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies