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Panorama
Panorama with the paras
UK paras with young Afghans in Kabul - picture by David Lomax
Panorama with the Paras: Into the Afghan minefield
Sunday 24 February 2002

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says re-building Afghanistan must remain a priority but, as Panorama reveals, it is a mission fraught with danger.

Panorama follows the men of D company of the 2nd battalion of The Parachute Regiment as they attempt to restore order to Kabul.

They are still on emergency field rations and have to survive night time temperatures which often drop to 15 degrees below zero.

Attack threat

They have had to be flown into the country at night because of the possible threat of Stinger missile attacks on RAF Hercules transport aircraft.

UK troops in Afghanistan - picture by D Lomax
UK troops in Afghanistan
From their spartan base in a derelict Taliban barracks the paras mount patrols round the clock and are supposed to support the local police who have no transport or equipment, not even pens, and have not been paid for months.

The paras are also unsure who are genuine police officers.

Major Mark Christie, the officer commanding D Company tells Panorama: "We're not sure who some of them are...some seem to be fighting men who have just turned up with their rifles. We suspect they are involved in some of the local crime."

Power struggle

Many Afghans - who have had to endure 23 years of war - welcome the new troops.

But there are war lords and fundamentalists who are suspicious of foreigners on Afghan soil, and are already jockeying for power in the new administration from which they have so far been excluded.

Abdrab Rasul Sayaf, who admits he knew Osama bin Ladin, tells Panorama: "We were able to bring some kind of stability in the country. There was no need, in my view, to bother foreign troops and bring them here to secure our cities."

Production Team:
Reporter: David Lomax
Camera: Fred Scott
Sound: Grant Lawson
Producer: David Harrison
Assistant Producer: Andy Bell
Editor: Mike Robinson

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Panorama: Into the Afghan Minefield


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Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.


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