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America's New War: Taliban Burns U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Aired September 26, 2001 - 05:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go to CNN's Mike Chinoy -- he is in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Mike, we understand that the Taliban, at least symbolically, is starting to strike back against the United States, at least supporters of the Taliban.

What do you hear about the U.S. Embassy on fire in Kabul?

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, there hasn't been a U.S. diplomat stationed at the embassy in Kabul since 1988, but that didn't stop the Taliban from organizing thousands of supporters in the capital city. Those supporters marched through the streets and then stormed and burned the embassy building. The attempt by the Taliban clearly to whip up nationalistic fervor and to convince its people that they need to be mobilized now to fight against the United States.

And other information we are getting here in Peshawar on the border with Afghanistan from local journalists who have been in remote tribal areas that foreigners are not permitted to visit, they report Taliban military positions on the other side of the Frontier have been beefed up in recent days in anticipation of possible fighting.

Meanwhile, the complete shut down on international aid agencies operating inside Afghanistan continues. Aid officials here are very concerned about what they see as a looming humanitarian crisis inside Afghanistan and a possible tidal wave of refugees, possibly as many as one-and-a-half million who could spill over here into Pakistan if the situation deteriorates -- Carol.

LIN: Mike, we're hearing that the United Nations is expecting what they're calling a human catastrophe.

Are there negotiations going on between the UN and Pakistan to open its borders to try to help some of these refugees who are fleeing?

CHINOY: The Pakistanis have adamantly refused to open their borders, but there are indications now that they are going to work with the UN High Commission on Refugees to set up some camps right on the border.

In fact, a few hours ago, teams from the UNHCR and other relief organizations set off from Peshawar into these remote areas. They are looking at sites for possibly between 75 and 100 camps, trying to determine the logistical questions, access, road transport, where they can preposition supplies, tents and so on. They're hoping to have the first of those camps beginning to take shape by sometime next week.

But at the moment, what you have is a situation where there is a tremendous amount of internal movement inside Afghanistan, but we're not seeing that much here in Pakistan. Aid officials say that what you had is a fundamental change in the nature of the human tragedy in Afghanistan in that many people have left the major urban areas -- the big cities, seeking shelter and safety in the countryside. These are urban people, who before have been able to fend for themselves, who now lack the basic necessities of life.

Moreover, by arriving in very poor villages that have often lived on the edge for a very long time, it's disrupting the ability of rural people to survive. So you do have a looming humanitarian disaster inside the country, and the fear is that it will increasingly spill over here into Pakistan -- Carol.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much -- Mike Chinoy reporting from near the border with Afghanistan in Pakistan. Thank you very much.

We're going to continue to cover this humanitarian crisis as it develops.

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