Thursday, February 28, 2008

Afghan police shut down dozens of Kabul snooker clubs

KABUL (AFP) — Police closed down dozens of snooker clubs in the Afghan capital, alleging the entertainment venues were being used by men involved in petty crimes, chiefly gambling, a city police chief said Wednesday.

More than 200 people, including teenagers, were also picked up from the clubs in the city-wide raids on Tuesday but most had already had been bailed out by their families, Kabul police chief General Mohammad Salim Ahsas said.

"We closed about 70 clubs and detained about 200 people, most of them bad boys," told AFP.

The raids were conducted after complaints by residents that the clubs were being used by people involved in crime, he said.

"Before carrying out the operations, we had sent in our secret police who found and took pictures that people were gambling there. The venues had turned to places for bad boys and criminals," he said.

Gambling is illegal in this conservative Islamic country but it is rife, with bets placed on dog fighting and buzkashi -- a form of polo played with a calf or goat carcass -- among other pastimes.

Snooker halls were banned during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime but have since flourished becoming among the main entertainment venues in a country where basic infrastructure was destroyed during nearly three decades of war.