Afghanistan: April 6, 2002

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Some 500 US troops from the 101st Airmobile divisions ended Operation Mountain Lion, in which several dozen caves were searched in eastern Afghanistan. Most were shallow, but some were reinforced with concrete and one cave went over a thousand feet into the mountain. Weapons, documents and other equipment was found and either destroyed in place or brought back for further analysis.

Most of the nearly 300 Afghans arrested (on suspicion of plotting against the government) in the last week have been released. The government insists that some of the arrested were followers of  pre-Taliban warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. No one knows where Hekmatyar is at the moment, but is suspected to be back in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar is an Islamic fundamentalist Pushtun who did not get along with the Taliban. But many of the religiously conservative Pushtuns like Hekmatyar, and the interim government, which contains Pushtuns and non-Pushtuns, see Hekmatyar as a threat. There are a lot of Pushtuns who believe Pushtuns should rule the country without any help from non-Pushtuns. The government believes that some of those arrested were plotting to assassinate government officials and, ultimately, put the Pushtuns, religiously conservative Pushtuns (including former Taliban officials) in charge of the country.

More anti-foreigner leaflets have shown up in eastern Afghanistan. This set offered rewards for wounding, killing or capturing foreign soldiers. The highest reward, $100,000, was for bringing in a live foreign prisoner. There were no details about where such a prisoner was to be brought and who would provide the reward.

 

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