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Ethnic Tensions on Sidelines of Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan - 2002-03-09


Ethnic tensions are being reported between the Afghan troops sent to support Operation Anaconda and the local community.

Officials in Kabul say the interim government has sent troops from various ethnic groups to the largely Pashtun area of eastern Afghanistan where fighting has been taking place for the past week. But news reports say the Afghan soldiers who were sent to help the U-S - led campaign in eastern Paktia province appear mostly to be ethnic Tajiks.

The Afghan Islamic Press news agency quotes one local commander, Mohammad Ayoub, as saying that tribal elders oppose the presence of the Afghan troops from outside the area.

Ethnic Pashtuns made up the majority of the ousted Taleban regime.

Aid workers and human-rights groups have said they are increasingly concerned that Pashtuns are falling victim to revenge attacks by other ethnic groups. They have added their voices to calls that the international security force in Afghanistan be expanded, saying this is the only way to check the violence in the short term.

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