Monday, November 17, 2003

Stronger and more deadly, the terror of the Taliban is back

The hi-tech onslaught that followed the 11 September attacks in America appeared to have consigned the Taliban to the overfull dustbin of Afghan history. But in recent months they have crawled out again. The Taliban are back. And if for the moment they are confined to a few isolated, inaccessible, lawless mountain valleys, their power, military and political, is growing.

Last week the resurgent Taliban began striking into the cities and against heavily armed coalition troops. Their efforts were once limited to hit-and-run attacks on far-flung government outposts or aid projects and the assassination of moderate clerics. But in the past eight days they have attacked a column of armoured vehicles near the Pakistani border, killing a Romanian soldier, and detonated a series of bombs in Kandahar city itself and in Qalat, capital of Zabul province. The Taliban's leaders are also refusing to surrender a Turkish engineer who was kidnapped two weeks ago while working on the key road from Kabul to Kandahar. Instead, they issued threats to kidnap Western journalists.




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