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Kamal Hyder: Apprehension among Afghans

Journalist Kamal Hyder in Islamabad, Pakistan
Journalist Kamal Hyder in Islamabad, Pakistan  


(CNN) -- Journalist Kamal Hyder has been reporting from Afghanistan from an undisclosed location throughout the onset of U.S.-led airstrikes against military targets in Afghanistan that began on Sunday.

Hyder recently crossed the border into Pakistan, where he spoke with CNN's Tom Mintier in Islamabad on the latest developments in Afghanistan.

MINTIER: You have been inside Afghanistan since the strike started. What is the mood of the people there after this night-and-day bombardment?

HYDER: Well, initially the mood was … there was apprehension there that the bombing campaign would lead to serious loss of civilian life. And then people felt comfortable that that was not going to be the case. However after speaking with several people inside of Afghanistan, we find that apprehension cropping up again.

MINTIER: We saw yesterday a picture out of Kandahar where people were basically getting on donkey carts, getting on anything that can carry, and leaving the city. It was a scene reminiscent of what I saw in Phnom Penh in 1975. How much fear was in Kandahar at a time like this?

HYDER: Well if you remember, yesterday they hit an ammunition dump (in an area) on the outskirts of the city, and very close to it. Basically a populated area (where) nomads and internally displaced peoples have set up shantytowns; they have set up tents in that area. And obviously they have been exposed to projectiles coming from secondary explosions -- of course a loss of life has been reported now. Eyewitnesses say that up to 18 people may have died.

MINTIER: The Pentagon says that they're hitting military targets. You have been in there, you have seen the bombs falling from the planes. And you've seen the after effects. The Taliban says they're hitting civilian targets, primarily. What have you seen on the ground as far as what’s been hit?

HYDER: Basically I haven't seen these bombing missions… reports coming from areas close to where we were located told us that there was no loss of civilian life, that the precision was pretty good, and that the areas being hit were on the outskirts of the city. For instance, they did not target populated areas within the city of Jalalabad.

However, as these attacks move closer to the cities, in the city in some cases -- for example in Kandahar the co-commander's headquarters is smack in the middle of the city -- obviously there are going to be accidents. I think the American administration said there will be accidents, and now we're beginning to see that.

MINTIER: When the Belgrade campaign was on, they went after the electric grid. Basically knocked out power for the entire city, basically putting a hardship on (people). Are we seeing any targeting of the water supplies, power supplies, things that both the military and the civilians could use?

HYDER: Well, today we have reports… that some bombs are may fallen in the Kajaki Dam area. This is the dam that supplies Kandahar with electricity. Now Kandahar is a city under drought. Afghanistan is suffering from one of its worst droughts. What you are seeing now is that in case there was an attack, or if that is a target, there is an apprehension as far as the people are concerned that they will not be able to pump groundwater. And that would a catastrophe. Whoever has remained behind will not be able to cope with the difficulties that may accrue from this.

MINTIER: What is the journey like, because the border crossings you normally use are closed? How do you get in and out, without giving away how you do it?

HYDER: Well it's mountainous territory. It's a mountainous country. You remember the Russians were in Afghanistan for 10 years. The Mujahedeen were crossing the frontiers. These are porous borders, difficult terrain.

MINTIER: (Did you get through by) driving, walking, donkey, horse?

HYDER: Well a combination of everything of course. Basically, mule trains, walking, old Afghan 4-by-4 vehicles meandering through the valleys. It's difficult terrain, especially in the east.



 
 
 
 



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