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Taleban Call the Shots in Ghazni
by IWPR (reposted)
Thursday Apr 27th, 2006 9:29 AM
Government forces appear to be struggling to quell the insurgency in a volatile southern province.

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Taleban Call the Shots in Ghazni

Government forces appear to be struggling to quell the insurgency in a volatile southern province.

By Borhan Younus in Andar (ARR No. 213, 25-Apr-06)
Just south of Ghazni city, on a wide, dusty plain, lies Andar, a predominantly Pashtun district that has lately seen an upsurge in Taleban activity.

The roads in Andar, Ghazni’s largest district, are eerily quiet these days, with just a few bicycles and donkeys ferrying people between villages or to the provincial capital.

But it is not poverty or backwardness that has silenced motor traffic in the area. It is a battle of wills between the Taleban and the government.

Following the latest in a series of assassinations, the government in mid-April banned unregistered motorcycles and pillion-riding throughout the district, depriving the insurgents of their preferred mode of attack.

Not to be outdone, the Taleban promptly issued a decree of their own: no vehicular movement would be allowed in the district at all. Those defying the order would be prime targets for Taleban revenge.

The result is that the roads are almost empty of traffic. Ten days after the bans, motorcycles started to trickle back, but very few cars, testimony to the fact that residents fear the Taleban much more than the government.

“We very rarely see a police patrol or a government team to come to our village, but we see armed Taleban patrolling the area every day,” said Rahmatullah, a shopkeeper in Safaraz village. “Whom should we fear more?”

“This is a test of who rules the area,” said one Taleban commander, who did not wish to be named.

A fierce Taleban-led insurgency in recent months has placed Ghazni, which lies just 135 km south of Kabul, among the most volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan.

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