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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 16:07 GMT
Return to Kabul: Jubilation and fear
Kabul residents shout
Crowds of people came up to shake my hand
BBC Afghanistan correspondent Kate Clark, who was ejected from Afghanistan eight months ago, describes her return to Kabul after the demise of the Taleban.

Hearing music in a taxi from the state radio station of Afghanistan was a shock. Even at the end of such a momentous day for Kabul.

I've witnessed scenes of jubilation. Crowds of people coming up to shake my hand as I walked into the city, smiling at the fact that overnight, the Taleban were gone.

Civil servants who I knew from the old days laughed at their newly discarded turbans.

Barber shaving man in Kabul
Some men had their first shave in five years

Some men had shaved for the first time in five years. And women riding by on buses lifted their burkhas from their faces to wave and smile at me.

But there's also been fear and horror.

Looted houses, groups of armed men roaming the city, and the seven foreign Muslim militants, probably Arabs and Pakistanis, lying in a ditch.

Some with money stuffed into their mouths, and music cassette tape, banned by the Taleban, pulled tight around their throats.

By midday, Northern Alliance police had arrived and brought order and some calm to this city.

Power vacuum

But when I ask people what happens next, anxiety crosses over their faces.

For now they're just pleased that the Taleban, conservative rural mullahs from the south, have left their relatively liberal city. But they still have no idea who will govern or how peace is to be brought to their country.

Five years of Taleban rule in Kabul is over: five years during which the religious police enforced the strictest social rules of any government on earth.

Northern Alliance troops in Kabul
Northern Alliance: Accused of causing mayhem

In the end the Taleban fled, abandoning the Afghan capital overnight, after the American-backed Northern Alliance pushed 40 kilometres through Taleban front-lines. Residents awoke to a power vacuum, looting, and revenge attacks.

Many people here believe alliance troops carried out much of the mayhem, although that's been denied.

Now Kabul has a new set of rulers who say they're just ensuring security, ready for a new broad-based government.

But they're the same people who left 50,000 people dead in the war for Kabul in the mid-1990s. Few people here believe they will relinquish power so easily.

The BBC's Peter Greste
"People are allowing themselves the luxury of hope"
See also:

13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan concern at Kabul's fall
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan women find new freedom
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Kabul calm after Taleban retreat
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Eyewitness: The liberation of Kabul
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Opposition takes Kabul
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