Sunday, February 1, 2009

Nobody likes foreign occupation

Correspondent Chris Sands:

Afghans want ‘foreigners' out of Kabul
Chris Sands - The National (UAE)

KABUL, Jan 29 - Afghans living on the main motorway leading east out of Kabul have demanded that foreign troops be withdrawn from the area.

Residents on the Jalalabad Road say high-speed military convoys are becoming an increasing danger to the local population and their presence encourages suicide bombings.

“They cause lots of problems. If there are women, children or men in the street, they don't care. They just drive too fast,” said a 26-year-old who gave his name only as Babrak.

“We need the foreigners to leave the city. They should go right to the provinces or to the outside of Kabul.”

Jalalabad Road is one of the most important highways in Afghanistan. Heading east from the capital to the Pakistani border, it is a major supply route for Nato and American forces, as well as a vital transport link for civilian traffic...

“The Russians did good work in Afghanistan but these people have done nothing except spend lots of money,” said Babrak...

According to witnesses, one morning in November a military convoy deliberately rammed a minibus off the motorway and into a butcher's shop. Shots were also reportedly fired and a 12-year-old boy was killed. Riots subsequently broke out.

The victim's brother, Zirgay, said the troops drove straight on after the crash, rather than offering any help...

Residents say nervous foreign soldiers throw everything from stones to water bottles at civilian cars in an effort to keep them at a safe distance. Military vehicles also often have signs warning people to stay back... But with traffic often jammed bumper to bumper along the road, it can be difficult for cars to move out of the way...

Ghulam Mohauddin, a stationery shop owner, said there had never been these problems during the Soviet era...

Afghans across Kabul can now be heard saying their lives have not improved in the past seven years. Insecurity and high unemployment, they commonly say, are the main features of this latest occupation... (link)

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