Taliban Forces Take the Fight to Capital

Phil Reeves

Eight Afghan policemen were reportedly killed yesterday when up to 100 Taliban fighters stormed a government district office in Zabol, one of the most violent and unstable provinces.

And in Kabul yesterday, guerrillas attacked a training centre for recruits to the Afghan national army where American troops were observing an exercise. One American soldier was slightly hurt but, the attack was further evidence that the anti-government forces were willing to take their fight to the capital itself, despite the presence of 5,500 Nato-led peace-keeping troops. The incidents were at the end of one of the worst weekends for Afghan and US officials since the overthrow of the Taliban.

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On Friday, 41 recently captured Taliban, including several commanders, escaped through a 30-foot tunnel leading out of a high-security prison in Kandahar. The latest events are an instalment in what has become the bloodiest period since the Taliban was thrown out of power two years ago.

To complicate matters for Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, has also faced accusations that his administration was stifling the freedom of speech of Afghanistan’s media after the government closed the country’s second most popular newspaper, the state-funded Armon Mali (The Public’s Desire) this weekend.

Mirhaidar Motahar, the chief editor, who has run a series of articles criticising Mr Karzai and his ministers, says the paper was shut because officials objected to his criticism of the government.

The deputy information minister, Abdul Hamid Mubarrez. said scores of newspapers had started publishing in the two years since the ousting of the Taliban, so the government felt there was no longer a need for four state-sponsored dailies.


Eight Afghan policemen were reportedly killed yesterday when up to 100 Taliban fighters stormed a government district office in Zabol, one of the most violent and unstable provinces.

And in Kabul yesterday, guerrillas attacked a training centre for recruits to the Afghan national army where American troops were observing an exercise. One American soldier was slightly hurt but the attack was further evidence that the anti-government forces were willing to take their fight to the capital itself, despite the presence of 5,500 Nato-led peace-keeping troops. The incidents were at the end of one of the worst weekends for Afghan and US officials since the overthrow of the Taliban.

On Friday, 41 recently captured Taliban, including several commanders, escaped through a 30-foot tunnel leading out of a high-security prison in Kandahar. The latest events are an instalment in what has become the bloodiest period since the Taliban was thrown out of power two years ago.

To complicate matters for Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, has also faced accusations that his administration was stifling the freedom of speech of Afghanistan’s media after the government closed the country’s second most popular newspaper, the state-funded Armon Mali (The Public’s Desire) this weekend.

Mirhaidar Motahar, the chief editor, who has run a series of articles criticising Mr Karzai and his ministers, says the paper was shut because officials objected to his criticism of the government.

The deputy information minister, Abdul Hamid Mubarrez. said scores of newspapers had started publishing in the two years since the ousting of the Taliban, so the government felt there was no longer a need for four state-sponsored dailies.


Published Monday, October 13th, 2003 - 03:08am GMT

The Independent

This is the print-ready version of Taliban Forces Take the Fight to Capital

Phil Reeves



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