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Kamal Hyder: Majority of Afghans leaving cities

Kamal Hyder
Kamal Hyder  

EASTERN AFGHANISTAN (CNN) -- Journalist Kamal Hyder, in Taliban-controlled eastern Afghanistan, told CNN Tuesday afternoon that many people had fled Afghan cities after the third day of the U.S.-led military action.

HYDER: This evening, as usual, the attacks started after dark and the people of Kabul and Jalalabad heard gunfire and explosions. There were no explosions in the Jalalabad area -- the firing in Jalalabad was just to synchronize their guns and to say to the population that they are ready.

CNN: From what you are hearing both on the ground and from your sources in the area, compare the intensity of tonight's attacks to the past two nights.

HYDER: It is very difficult to judge -- we are a considerable distance from Kabul. Jalalabad, so far, has not reported. Communications are also a problem, despite the fact that we are using satellite phones. There are times when our phones don't work properly.

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We have no reports from Jalalabad. Our last report was that Jalalabad is not under attack and that the anti-aircraft guns are going.

There are, however, reports that the majority of the population of Jalalabad, 60 percent of them, have now left the city. Entire streets are seen with no activity. There is hardly anyone on the roads now and the security forces, personnel and police are patrolling the city, basically trying to keep law and order.

The people in Kabul are very poor and most of these people have no way to get out. It must be remembered these are white-collar workers who used to work in the bureaucracy. Those people don't have any villages, they don't have any family links outside the cities and those people find it very difficult to cope with what is going on.

Most people are complaining about the nervousness and the tensions. You can talk to people and find that they are not in their normal frame of mind. This is a country at war and the cities are bearing the brunt of it.

In spite of the fact that the population is not being targeted, there is now at least a sense that, within the public, that they will not be targeted. But accidents are happening and they will happen inevitably.

CNN: Are these the people who tend to be refugees, the people with no tribes to return to? Are these the people that tend to migrate to Pakistan or Iran and find safe haven there?

HYDER: Again, it's a question of economics. If they can afford to journey to the border, that is the only border that is open. Surprisingly, no other border has been opened to the refugees but the Pakistani border. Tajikistan has not had any significant number of people moving there even during the war, nor are refugees moving to Uzbekistan, nor are refugees moving to Turkmenistan or Iran as well. So, they know that there is only one way out if they want to leave Afghanistan. So they are going to Pakistan and most of them have some money or resources to endure the long journey.

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