Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Taliban close to Kabul

From the BBC:
Taleban at Kabul's doorstep
By Alastair Leithead

WARDAK, Aug 13 (BBC) - It is just an hour's drive south-west of Kabul on Afghanistan's main highway before you start to see dramatic evidence of how the insurgency is closing in on the capital.

The first thing to notice are the holes in the road - the tarmac ripped up by bombs - which the traffic has to carefully veer around...

Wardak is the neighbouring province to Kabul and in just one month 51 trucks were burned...

A local BBC reporter visited districts close to the main road and to the more remote villages up in the mountains.

He met a Taleban commander who took him to film perhaps two dozen men, all heavily armed and parading on motorbikes, in daylight, within view of Highway One.

"I have 6,000 fighters," the commander said, "and control three quarters of Wardak province."

It was a massive exaggeration, but their brazen display by day was a strong sign of how much influence the insurgents have by night...

Our reporter spoke to many local people - a lot supported the Taleban, but they would perhaps be afraid to speak out otherwise, given their presence on the ground. Others were critical.

"All the Taleban did was provide security," one young man said with a couched compliment. "Now the Karzai government is building roads and bringing development. Unfortunately they cannot bring security." ...

The UN produces internal "accessibility" maps which colour code areas by level of risk.

A comparison between 2005 and June 2008 shows the dramatic deterioration of security in such a short space of time.

Almost half the country is now "extremely risky" for UN staff - a classification that did not even appear on the map legend three years earlier.

Kabul is ringed by areas classified as a "high risk/volatile environment", previously reserved for only the worst insurgent areas in the east and south... (link)

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