British and US special forces, along with CIA operatives, entered Kandahar yesterday, after staffing checkpointsoutside the city to search for al-Qaida fighters and senior Taliban members.
The patrols began in spite of claims by a US forces spokesman at the American marine base at Camp Rhino, southernAfghanistan, that they had no intention of entering the city. Under an agreement reached about a week ago Kandaharwill be run by Gul Agha, who was deposed as governor of the city when the Taliban seized control in 1994.
But since the fall of the Taliban in Kandahar, competing anti-Taliban factions have been fighting for control of thecity, raising fears that it could plunge into the sort of devastating civil conflict that left tens of thousands deadin the mid 1990’s.
- Peter Beaumont, reporter for the London Observer on a satellite phone from Kandahar.