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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Afghans brace for US strike
Anti-Taleban fighters in northern Afghanistan
Anti-Taleban fighters hope for news of US strike
By the BBC's Sarah Nelson in northern Afghanistan

Money-changers don't count notes at the crowded market in Khoja Bahauddin, a town in a part of northern Afghanistan controlled by the main opposition group to the Taleban.

Instead, they weigh it. For every US dollar you change, you get a bulky packet of green notes.

Any civilian casualty would be one too many. That would turn public feeling against America

Afghan shopkeeper

One of the money-changers said he would welcome a US military strike in Afghanistan.

"I don't worry, because the attack of the Americans on the Taleban would eradicate the terrorist centres and the Taleban," he said.

The money-changer said he supported the Northern Alliance, the main opposition group fighting the Taleban.

Life without the Taleban

The Northern Alliance controls about 10% of Afghanistan, while the Taleban rule 90% of the country.

map of Afghanistan showing opposition-controlled territory north of Kabul
People came from all the surrounding areas to sell their wares at the market.

Traders were selling everything - from loose tea and bags of spices to nuts and bolts and bundles of second-hand clothes - all laid out in the dust on vast rugs.

A local shopkeeper said Afghanistan needed peace after two decades of war.

He wouldn't give his name because he has family still in Kabul.

Fear of war

"If the United States brings peace, that's fine," he said.

"But any civilian casualty would be one too many. That would turn public feeling against America."

As I spoke to him, a group of about 60 or 70 men gathered, but no women.

Some of the men wore combat fatigues. One told me they would support a US strike.

Hoping for US support

"If United States of America want to eradicate these people, we are very happy about this matter, because they are our enemy."

He said the United States could support the Northern Alliance, first by sending food for the poor.

"First of all, we would like to receive food for these poor people. After that, we need military aid."

He said the Taleban fighters were becoming demoralised at the prospect of US military action.

"We are confident and we see it right now that a lot of Taleban want to flee from their crimes, and we can defeat them."

See also:

26 Sep 01 | South Asia
Afghans place hopes in UN
11 Jan 01 | South Asia
Afghan refugees' unending plight
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