KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's top intelligence chief and interior minister abruptly resigned Sunday after President Hamid Karzai criticized the pair for failing to stop last week's attack on a nationwide peace conference as the president was addressing the gathering.
Amrullah Saleh, the director of Afghanistan's powerful intelligence agency, and Hanif Atmar, the head of the interior ministry — which oversees the nation's beleaguered police force — stepped down after a tense meeting with Karzai.
"The president of Afghanistan has lost trust in our capabilities," said Saleh, the head of the National Directorate of Security, on Sunday, after conferring with Karzai at the presidential palace.
Saleh and Atmar were both regarded by many Western officials as strong allies in the push to transform the Afghan government into a respected political force that won't have to rely on an international force of more than 100,000 troops to prevent the Taliban from again seizing power.
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Saleh, a key leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, spent more than six years as the intelligence chief and worked closely with his Western counterparts.
Atmar was responsible for overseeing transformation of the widely criticized police force considered essential to President Barack Obama's plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 13 months.
Last week, two Taliban militants fired rockets where 1,500 delegates had gathered in a grand tent. One of the missiles landed about 200 yards away, but no delegates were hurt. The militants were later killed in a gun battle with security forces in a house about a mile away.