Afghanistan: February 1, 2005


In the last week, at least 13 arms and munitions caches have been found throughout the country. The largest of them contained more than 10,000 mortar rounds, 500 122 mm artillery rockets, as well as fuses. In the last four months, 236 weapons caches have been found, and destroyed, throughout the country. More importantly, 99 of those were found because local Afghans reported the location to coalition forces. Most of this stuff dates to the 1980s war with Russia. Warlords would store any excess munitions they could get their hands on. When the Russians withdrew in the late 1980s, there were many munitions stockpiles that were not destroyed, often because of bribes, or because they were taken over by pro-Russian Afghan forces. More munitions were sent to the pro-Russian Afghan government in the early 1990s, until that government was overthrown. Then the Taliban came along. Afghans prefer to use their rifles most of the time, saving mortars, artillery and rockets for special occasions. Thus all these hidden supplies of  shells and rockets. 

In 2003, ten percent of the caches found were because of tips from Afghans. This increased to 31 percent in 2004, and was 42 percent in the past four months. Afghans know that these munitions will be used against them, if any of the local warlords get into a major quarrel. The usual drill is to fire mortars, rockets and artillery at the other warlords villages and towns. More Afghans feel secure enough with the new police force and army to trust them with this information. Local warlords often kill people who reveal locations of ammo and weapons caches. 


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