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Old 10-13-2001, 09:00 PM   #1
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Taliban are worse than U.S. bombs, refugees say

Taliban are worse than U.S. bombs, refugees say

Los Angeles Times

SHIRKAT, Afghanistan - After the worst night of U.S. airstrikes around the Afghan capital, Akmad Samim and his family of nine finally fled Kabul at dawn Friday, but not because they feared the bombs.

They packed up and left because soldiers with the Taliban regime, despite all the firepower aimed at them, were still plying the streets of Kabul to gather young men as conscripts.

In fact, some people in the capital have so much faith in the accuracy of U.S. missiles and bombs that they wander around in the open watching the fireworks as the bombs fall.

Although refugees from some other Afghan cities bring rumors of destroyed houses and civilian casualties, the panic in Kabul has subsided, according to the trickle of refugees traveling north to opposition-held territory.

Refugees from Kabul report that no bombs or missiles struck the center.

Student Gulam Gaus, 18, joined a crowd of people who stayed outside and watched, enthralled, when U.S. planes roared over at 2 p.m. Thursday and twice struck the Kabul airport.

"We sat near a shop, and when the planes appeared, our eyes were glued to it. We were not afraid, because everyone knew the American planes would only hit military targets," Gaus said. "In any case, American bombs and missiles are better than the Taliban yoke."

Most of the ethnic Tajik population despise the Taliban, which draw their support from ethnic Pushtuns. Afghanistan's civil war has a strong ethnic element, with 38 percent of the population Pushtun and 25 percent Tajik.

Samim, the young man who fled with his family, is an ethnic Tajik. He said he had a lucky escape Thursday night, walking home from the bazaar with a friend.

They stumbled across a Taliban patrol roughly shoving young men into a minivan. About five or 10 young men were already captive. The Taliban men seized Samim's friend and pushed him into the van.

"They tried to get me, but I ran," Samim said, speaking in English. "They chased me for a few meters, but I got away." As the family breadwinner, he couldn't afford to be arrested or pressed to fight.

"When I came home, I said to my father, 'The situation is bad. We should leave,' " he said.

Like Samim, Gaus left the city fearing not bombs but Taliban roundups and arrests. "If they see a group of five or six people sitting together and talking, they'll round them up and take them away."

Samim said many Taliban members had taken shelter in bases in the center of the city, where no bombs fell. But a military base in the east of the city known as Sherpur - the Lion's Den - was hit.

"I saw 12 to 15 dead bodies of Talibs there," Samim said.

Although there is no way of verifying casualties among the Taliban, many people in the capital believe considerable numbers have died. But the figure they generally cite, 150 to 200, seems to be based on rumor, not clear evidence.

The Kabul refugees arrived in northern Afghanistan as the military situation is changing rapidly, with signs of disarray on the Taliban side and numerous defections to the opposition.

But the Afghan Islamic Press, a pro-Taliban news agency, claimed Friday that the Taliban had won back one district in Badghis province, in western Afghanistan, and had attacked opposition positions 21 miles west of Bamian.

Generals in the Northern Alliance opposition forces fighting the Taliban are eager to surge into Kabul once the U.S. bombing ends. They are already making plans for a police force in the capital.

But even among Tajiks, who generally support the Northern Alliance, there isn't universal support for the opposition storming the capital.

"It would be better if the Americans came in to establish security and peace," Samim said. "If the Northern Alliance comes, there'll be a lot of fighting with the Taliban."


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Old 10-14-2001, 12:01 AM   #2
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Did you not get the memo?

The Taliban are wreaking the terror they incur upon their citizens for HUMANITARIAN reasons!

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