Monday, March 01, 2004

Talibn consolidate control of Zabul province: "A convoy of about 20 Honda motorcycles surrounds a house, looking for people who support the United States or President Hamid Karzai. If they find one, they kill him. If not, the householders are beaten to serve as a warning to others. In the village of Shah Joy, about 300 kilometres southwest of Kabul, the return of the Taliban has been swift and harsh, as it is in about one-third of Afghanistan's southern regions where the ousted regime has regrouped and is widely thought to be preparing for a spring offensive against the Karzai government and its U.S. allies."

"Local military officials believe that 700 Taliban fighters — all ethnic Pashtuns — have crossed the border from the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Quetta, where they are trained and funded. The insurgents have offered a motorbike, AK-47 assault rifle and satellite telephone to anyone willing to steal from, rob or bomb a government target."

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