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Nic Robertson: Kandahar in limbo

CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson
CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson  

(CNN) -- CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson, the only Western television reporter in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, has been following the political struggle for control of the southern city among Afghanistan's tribal leaders.

ROBERTSON: Kandahar is a city in limbo. It is waiting to have a centralized security force really guarantee security for the people here. Widespread looting has been reported in the last few days, and there are two different tribal groups here who want to have power over the city.

Now, today, negotiations, talks between those groups, and between tribal elders, have been shared by Afghanistan -- by the head of Afghanistan's new interim government, Hamid Karzai. He has been in Kandahar, and he has been chairing those meetings. He has talked with many tribal elders, and with both of the leaders of those two groups, Gul Agha on one side and Mullah Naqib on the other side.

Now, when I asked Mr. Karzai exactly what was going to happen for Kandahar, he was a little bit evasive, and he said the more important issue at this time was for the whole of Afghanistan.

"We should talk about the immediate scenario for Afghanistan, sir," Karzai said. "We are trying to bring peace to all of Afghanistan. We are trying to bring stability to all of Afghanistan. Kandahar is one city in Afghanistan and will be the same here. It's all good."

Now, those talks took place in the compound of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader, and this one is looking for an indication or a metaphor, if you will, of the end of the Taliban. One certainly finds it in Mullah Omar's compound. There is widespread destruction there. It is a large compound, and many of the buildings have been reduced to rubble; others torn apart by what appears to be some very, very heavy bombing raids on his compound.

Also, on the streets of Kandahar today, there is a sense from the people that all is still not well, but a level of calm as well, because in a moment, even though there is tension between these two different commanders, there is no fighting between their forces on the ground. We've also, today, seen U.S. Special Forces driving through the city on the way to one of the buildings that Taliban leader, Mullah Omar used to occupy.


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