Afghanistan: May 22, 2003


The government has arrested commanders from two rival militias in the north. The two men were accused of being responsible for weeks of fighting around Mazar-i-Sharif. The arrests were only possible because the warlords that control the north allowed it. But this is seen as a gesture by the warlords towards the idea of a central government, and a convenient way to get rid of some troublesome subordinates. 

Deminers has suspended operations in ten provinces in the southwest and southeast because of Taliban attacks on deminers. Taliban are attacking and threatening other aid workers, and government workers as well. The Taliban wants to create misery and chaos so they can seize power once more. So far, the attacks are not numerous, but everyone knows they are happening. The attackers come from tribes and clans that, traditionally, believe in more conservative religious and social customs. Before the Taliban got themselves organized in Pakistan, these religious conservatives never had a widespread organization. Now they have, and have tasted power, and want it back. 

On the Pakistan border in the southeast, American Special Forces clashed with 30 Taliban fighters and killed five of them. The 10,000 American troops in the country continue to improve their intelligence collection system and go after Taliban and al Qaeda suspects. 


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