Afghanistan: November 10, 2003

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Officials in the southern Zabul province revealed that Taliban fighters controlled most of the villages along about fifty kilometers of their border with Pakistan. The region in question is not easy to reach, there being only dirt tracks going to some of the villages. The Taliban moved in over the Summer and drove out the few provincial officials present. From these villages, the Taliban come down and terrorize aid workers, government employees and Afghans considered too "un-Islamic" (for listening to popular music, sending daughters to school, not growing beards, etc). Taliban fighters are sneaking into the provincial capital and setting off bombs and trying to organize support for a Taliban take over of the province. A minority of the people in Zabul are pro-Taliban, and agree with the severe version of Islam promoted by the Taliban.

US and Afghan armed forces continue to make raids along the border, but choose targets that appear to provide the highest potential payoff. The Taliban in the Zabul province villages are seen as minor players, and not worth going after. Such situations are left to provincial officials. But in Zabul province, the local Taliban have a lot of support. Attacking villages is seen as very unpopular. Eventually, the Americans will come in, and after that the Taliban will sneak across the border and occupy the villages again.

 

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