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Taliban bring order, say Afghans

The Australian

December 13, 2009

TALIBAN insurgents in Kabul are nailing night letters to the front doors of police, soldiers and government officials, warning them to leave their jobs or face punishment.

The militants are being welcomed in the Afghan capital's poorer areas by people who are angry over corruption and give them food, cash and weapons.

Safe houses and bomb-making workshops have begun to appear in poor districts close to the city centre as the militants increase their presence and plot attacks on prominent targets.

"They know who we are, where we live and what we do," said Ehsan Anwari, who used to work as an Afghan army medico and now runs a clinic in Company district, where Highway One, the main road from Kandahar, enters the capital.

"Whenever we hear shooting, we think the Taliban are taking over the district," Dr Anwari said. "We are afraid."

Described by one police officer as a den of vice, Company district is a maze of tightly packed single-storey houses and muddy narrow streets.

The Taliban tried last month to blow up the house of Dr Anwari's brother, a police officer, after pouring petrol through his front gate.

The policeman grabbed his gun and opened fire. His attackers fled, but he found mortar rounds, explosives and ammunition by the gate.

"We reported it but the police are too afraid to come into these streets at night because of the Taliban," Dr Anwari said.

Earlier this year, the Taliban assassinated two army colonels as they walked through Company district. After the killings, many government officials left the area in fear of their lives.

Local people said they supported the Taliban because the police never tackled the criminal gangs smuggling drugs, running prostitutes and kidnapping local businessmen.

In Wardak, a Taliban-controlled province south of the capital, the insurgents last month seized four men involved in kidnapping the son of a wealthy Kabul tea merchant.

The kidnappers told their victim to pretend he was their nephew if they met anyone on the way to their safe house in a remote area. But Taliban soldiers at a checkpoint noticed his expensive shoes, jeans and leather jacket, and arrested the gang.

Four bodies were then left swinging from a tree in Maidan Shah, the provincial capital. A note pinned to one read: "The same fate awaits others who choose to kidnap for a living."

The Taliban caught the kidnappers, tortured them and executed them in public. The tea merchant donated $US200,000 ($219,000) to the Taliban as a gift for his son's release.

The story quickly spread through the districts around Highway One.

"It proves the Taliban have no problem with ordinary Afghans - they only have a problem with those Afghans who work in high government positions, who run crime in this city," said Karimullah, 40, who owns a shop selling flour, oil and rice.

As he spoke, two officials from the Kabul municipality pulled up in Toyota Land Cruisers. Karimullah watched with contempt as they entered the shops and took money from the owners. "You see," he shouted. "They take our money and don't give a receipt. It's not tax, it's for their pockets."

The Sunday Times

:: Article nr. 61027 sent on 13-dec-2009 15:25 ECT


Link: www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/taliban-bring-order-say-afghans/story-e6frg6

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