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Saturday, 22 September, 2001, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Eyewitness: Taleban prepare for US attack
John Simpson, flanked by Afghan women in the traditional burqa
John Simpson is travelling disguised as a woman
By the BBC's World Affairs Editor John Simpson in Taleban-controlled Afghanistan

We made our way through from Pakistan into Afghanistan territory, past a greatly strengthened Taleban presence on the border.

From where I am reporting, I can see a Taleban position about half a mile away.

Jalalabad location map
Two days ago, the locals tell us, they were not here.

The Taleban must be anticipating a ground attack from across the Pakistan border.

This province, Nangarhar, includes the city of Jalalabad, where Osama bin Laden has often based himself, and there are many of his training camps around in the area.

Now the assumption is that the camps have long since been emptied out of people.

Smuggled in

We ourselves had little trouble getting here.

We were brought in by cross-border smugglers, wearing the heavy robes which Afghan women wear, which cover both the figure and face completely.

It proved a highly successful disguise - this, after all, is a society where women are virtually invisible.

We have obviously avoided the main crossing points and therefore have not seen the large numbers of refugees getting out, but they are definitely there.

In fact the striking thing here is the lack of people, perhaps it is just in this valley, but it is eerie.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's World Affairs Editor John Simpson
"We've seen a number of greatly strengthened Taleban positions"
See also:

22 Sep 01 | Middle East
UAE cuts ties with Taleban
16 Sep 01 | Americas
US prepares for war
22 Sep 01 | South Asia
Aid shortage adds to Afghan woes
21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Afghanistan
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