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Kasra Naji: Joy in Herat after Taliban leaves

Naji: "I have never seen Afghans so happy before in my life."  

HERAT, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Six years ago, the western Afghan city of Herat came under Taliban control, turning residents' lives upside-down and ousting esteemed veteran Gov. Ismail Khan.

This week, mujahedeen forces pushed the Taliban out of Herat, and joyful residents played music and videotaped a wedding -- just some activities banned by the Taliban. CNN Correspondent Kasra Naji, who is in the Afghan city, assessed the mood in the streets on Wednesday.

NAJI: It's nighttime here, late in the evening, and the streets are deserted. Mujahedeen of the Northern Alliance are patrolling the streets in pickup trucks loaded with soldiers armed with (AK-47s) and rocket launchers. The city fell to the Northern Alliance mujahedeen only a couple of days ago, on Monday.

Occasionally you hear gunfire here, but I'm not sure if those shots are fired in anger or in celebration. There is certainly a great deal of joy and celebration here now that the Taliban leave been forced to leave after six years of what many people here see as a brutal rule. Everyone I met earlier today was smiling and happy. I've never seen Afghans so happy before in my life, in fact.

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The city in now under the control of Ismail Khan. Khan is a well-known mujahedeen commander who became famous during the era when they fought the Soviet forces here. He later became the governor of Herat until he was forced by the Taliban to leave Herat six years ago.

Now he's back in control, his men manning the checkpoints in and around the city. I just had dinner with him, in fact. He's happy to be back. He does not seem to be bothered about possible attacks by the Taliban, even though there are rumors here that there are pockets of Taliban here and they're holed up in various hideouts in the city or around the city.

But many people, as I said, are happy. They are doing things that they haven't been able to do for a long time,. Earlier on today, I saw a wedding procession going through the city. Interestingly, at the beginning of this procession there was a pickup truck and on top of there was a camera man filming the wedding on his video camera. This is something people haven't been allowed to do, as video and television were not allowed under the Taliban.

People are also telling me -- although I haven't seen it myself, I have to check tomorrow when the daylight comes -- that people are going to the parks, young people with their ghetto blasters, and playing music in the parks, something they haven't been allowed to do in some six years.

People are very happy indeed that the Taliban are gone, but there is also concern about the political future here. Everyone knows it's going to take a while before the political situation here and the rest of Afghanistan settles down.


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