Afghan president announces second troop transition

image captionThe British army says Nad Ali - due to return to Afghan control - has made "enormous progress" in the last year

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has named the provinces, cities and districts that will be handed over by Nato to Afghan control.

This second wave of transition means that half of Afghanistan is due to be controlled by its own forces.

The Helmand district of Nad Ali - which has seen heavy fighting between insurgents and British forces - is among those being handed over.

The first stage of transition began in July, with seven areas handed over.

They included four provincial capitals - Herat, Lashkar Gah, Mehterlam and Mazer-e-Sharif - as well as the provinces of Bamiyan, Panjshir and, most of Kabul.

Scenes of attacks

Mr Karzai's latest announcement is part of a process that should see Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) combat leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Among the provinces to be handed over is Balkh, in the north, where the Taliban are active in many of its districts, the BBC's Bilal Sarway reports from Kabul.

Takhar province in north-eastern Afghanistan, also being handed over, has also seen recent attacks - including the assassination of three senior Afghan officials in the last year alone.

Among the cities named is Jalalabad in the east and the volatile Ghazni, where only last month a mother and daughter were stoned and then shot by the Taliban just a few hundred metres from the local governor's office, our correspondent adds.

Marjah, Nawa and Nad Ali - all districts in Helmand province - are being handed over, although the province as a whole is not.

Nad Ali has been the scene of heavy fighting between insurgents and more than 1,800 British troops stationed there.

Mr Karzai's announcement was welcomed by Task Force Helmand commander Brigadier Patrick Sanders, who said "enormous progress" had been made in the district over the last year.

"The levels of violence have dropped down by 67%," he said.

Around 140,000 foreign troops currently remain in Afghanistan - nearly 100,000 of them from the US - battling the Taliban insurgency.

After combat troops are withdrawn, the primary role of any foreign forces in the country will be to train and equip Afghan security forces.

The second stage of the handover is expected to begin this week. This is the full list of areas to be handed over:

Provinces: Nimroz, Day Kundi, Samangan, Takhar and Balkh; Parwan, except Shinwari and Siahgerd districts; and Sar-e-Pul, except Sayyad district; Herat province, except for Shindand, Obe and Chishti Sharif districts.

Cities: Ghazni, provincial capital of Ghazni province; Jalalabad, provincial capital of Nangarhar, plus Beshud, Kama, Kuzhunar and Surkh Rod districts; Maidan Shah, provincial capital of Wardak province, plus Jalrez district and the Beshud area; Chaghcharan, capital of Ghor province; Shibirghan, capital of Jawzjan province.

Districts: Badghis districts of Ab Kamari and Qalay-e-Naw, which includes the provincial capital; Nadi Ali, Nawa and Marjah districts of Helmand; Qarghayee district of Laghman; Surobi district of Kabul; Shahri, Buzurg, Argo, Yaftal-e-Sufla, Faizabad, Arghanj Khwah, Baharak, Tashkan and Kishim, all in Badakhshan province.