Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has removed Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi, the national security council said in a statement on Friday, amid a series of attacks on the country's security forces.

The current army chief of staff, General Yasin Zia, has been appointed acting defense minister until Asadullah Khalid recovers from an illness that has hospitalized him for months, according to the statement.

Afghan president dismisses interior minister amid series of attacks

He did not elaborate on Andarabi's firing, but a senior security official said the former minister had not arrested a militia commander whose forces shot down a helicopter in central Wardak province on Thursday and killed nine members of the forces. of security.

The senior official said Ghani had charged Andarabi weeks earlier with the arrest of the militia commander, who was also responsible for several other attacks on Afghan security forces in recent months.

Ghani told reporters on Thursday that the helicopter had been shot down and that the perpetrators would be arrested and punished.

Andarabi did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

The government is also preparing for a new spring offensive by Taliban insurgents, which international actors fear will further jeopardize the nation's fragile peace process.

There is usually a lull in fighting during the snowy winter months before the attacks resume around March.

At a meeting in Moscow after an international conference on the peace process, the Afghan government and the Taliban agreed on Friday to try to speed up the peace talks.

The United States, Russia, China and Pakistan during the conference, held just six weeks before last year's agreed deadline to withdraw US troops, called on the warring parties in Afghanistan to reach an immediate ceasefire.