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Afghan Official: Taleban Could Still Destabilize Country - 2002-02-10


Afghanistan's interim government is warning that the ousted Taleban could still destabilize the country as it tries to recover from decades of war.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah says pockets of Taleban fighters remain at large in the country, and former Taleban members have formed two new organizations outside Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters (Saturday) in Kabul, the Foreign Minister said very little information is available about the new groups. However, Mr. Abdullah said it is not acceptable for the Taleban to be able to operate anywhere, in any capacity.

Meanwhile, the interim government in Kabul has released several hundred former Taleban fighters. Government leader Hamid Karzai addressed the prisoners, whom he called innocent conscripts, before they were freed Saturday.

Mr. Karzai told the former Taleban fighters to return to their homes and find jobs rather than use guns.

United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is reported to be calling for a larger security force to keep the peace in post-war Afghanistan. In an interview published today (Sunday) in the Washington Post, Mr. Brahimi said the United States should be a part of any enlarged peacekeeping force.

The New York Times reports today that the United States is facing increasing scrutiny over the death of civilians during military attacks in Afghanistan since October. The newspaper says thousands of innocent Afghans may have lost their lives. U-S officials have admitted some mistakes, but they say it is difficult to resolve many of the complaints about bombs hitting the wrong targets.

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