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Amanpour: Establishing security in Kandahar

CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour
CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour  

(CNN) -- Anchor Carol Lin spoke with CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan for the latest on the political situation in the former Taliban stronghold.

AMANPOUR: Three months after the September 11 attacks, and now we can say that the Taliban have finally been pushed out of all corners of power that they once held here in Afghanistan.

In Kandahar itself, which was the birthplace of the Taliban, the home of Mullah Omar, the situation is fairly under control. The man who has been named governor here, Gul Agha, has said that he is now establishing security, that there are now fresh and new police stations and police posts established in the town. Today they were doing that, as well as establishing a new police headquarters and a new police chief.

So they are hopeful that within a couple of days this rather tense situation ... will be resolved and will be peaceful.

On the streets, [the moods of the people are] varied. They are saying on the one hand that they are pleased that the Taliban have gone. On the other hand they are concerned about security, and that is their first priority. Everybody we talked to in every corner of Afghanistan said that peace and security [are] their primary objectives.

We have also been reporting over the last couple of days a situation in which we were told by the officials here that there may have been as many as 200 Arab mercenaries or al Qaeda operatives hold up and resisting at the Kandahar airport.

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We were not able to confirm that because we have not been able to have access to the airport. Today, authorities are telling us that those Arab fighters have now been killed. Again, we cannot confirm that, but we are being told that they now have the situation under control at the airport. We are still not being given access there.

In the meantime, the new interim leader of the future Afghan government, Hamid Karzai, is still here in Kandahar where he has been holding several days of talks with tribal leaders and other local leaders here. He is getting ready to move onto Kabul, the capital, where he will hold talks with the other members of the interim government.

LIN: Christiane, what is the word on the whereabouts of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban spiritual leader?

AMANPOUR: Very hard to tell, of course. Every time we ask, we are told that they are not quite sure. Some people have told us that they believe he and other senior members of the Taliban have headed off toward the Helmand province southwest of here. We simply don't know for sure.

What we do know, though, having come across the Pakistan border just yesterday, is that there has been over the last couple of days, certainly, an increase in the number of Arab mercenaries [who had been] fighting with the Taliban trying to get across the Pakistan border.

Pakistan officials have told us that they're stepping up surveillance. They're now giving orders to question almost anybody who crosses in a car. They're checking identification.

They have a couple of problems. One is because of their rules, regulations in custom, they cannot check women.

And so they're concerned that if any men come disguised in the burka, they cannot check them. And we did see a jail cell inside Chaman on the other side of the border with about two dozen Arab fighters, and they are questioning them and trying to determine what they are, who they are, and what their objectives were.

But the Pakistanis are definitely saying that they're trying very, very hard to interdict any attempt by any of these Arab fighters to move across the border into Pakistan.


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