Taliban fortifying its border positions

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October 14, 2001

Taliban fortifying its border positions

By The Associated Press CHAMAN, Pakistan - Girding for a U.S. ground attack, Afghanistan's Taliban fighters are arming supporters along both sides of the border and ordering people to evacuate towns and villages in the area, residents and Pakistani officials said Saturday.

Villagers who live along Pakistan's border also said the Taliban have dug trenches and fortified positions along the Afghan side of frontier. On Friday, Pakistan's Frontier Corps was digging its own trenches on the low, drab hills that overlook the road to the border.

The border has been tense since Pakistan, once the Taliban's staunchest ally, pledged to cooperate in U.S.-led efforts to flush out or kill Osama bin Laden.

Qila Leva, whose dirt-poor population of 200 straddles the border, is one of the villages ordered evacuated by the Taliban.

``About six days ago some Taliban came and told us to leave,'' said Hadi Shad Khan, 50, whose home is on the Pakistani side of the line. ``They said they wanted to build fortifications here.''

In the towns of Vesh and Spin Boldak, which are near the border on the Afghan side and have survived economically thanks to a flourishing smuggling trade, residents said they had also been told the same thing by Taliban fighters.

``We have been told to leave for our own safety,'' said Abdul Bari, a shopkeeper in Spin Boldak who, like most other vendors, runs his business out of a ship's cargo container.

The Taliban appeared to be making preparations in case any U.S. assault came on the ground at this southern stretch of the border near the Taliban stronghold Kandahar, where the terrain is less mountainous.

In Chaman the estimated 400,000 people live off the smuggling trade with Vesh and Spin Boldak. Many businesses that trade in smuggled goods, such as Japanese consumer items, soap and tires, have been moving inventories from warehouses in Afghanistan back into Pakistan.

Businessmen in Chaman, who travel daily into Afghanistan without passports or other travel documents, said the Taliban were insisting that merchants remove flammable items such as fuel, rubber tires and textiles - presumably to keep them from feeding fires caused by U.S. munitions.

Rumors have been rife in Chaman that the Taliban are stockpiling weapons in Vesh and Spin Boldak, because they believe the Americans would be reluctant to attack targets so close to the border with Pakistan, a U.S. ally in the anti-terrorism campaign. No one, however, has seen convincing evidence of weapons being stored there.

Col. Mohammed Sarwar, commander of Pakistan's Frontier Corps, confirmed Saturday that he had met with Taliban officials to warn the Afghans against trying to clear Qila Leva and other territories that belong to Pakistan.

In recent days, truckloads of young militant Muslims from Pakistan and abroad have been passing through Chaman on their way to fight alongside the Taliban.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 14, 2001


young, militant/ soon to be dead.

-- jimmie-the-weed (thinkasur@aol.com), October 14, 2001.

. . . and for each such anti-American young militant killed, two are "born" (somewhere in the world) to take his place.

-- Robert Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), October 15, 2001.

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