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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 10:40 GMT
Hazaras march on Kabul
Refugees from Hazara community listen to the evening news in Pakistan
The Hazara people have a strong sense of community
By the BBC's World Affairs correspondent David Loyn and William Reeve in Kabul

A thousand-strong force from the Hazara region in the centre of Afghanistan is camped half a day's drive from the Northern Alliance-controlled capital, Kabul.

Hazara refugee women in Quetta, Pakistan
Ethnic Hazaras comprise 20% of Afghanistan's population
The Hazaras, who form about 20% of the population, say they want to protect the Hazara community of the city and will only enter Kabul in co-operation with the Northern Alliance.

But they are equipped with weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, which are far more than they need for a light security role.

Other groups have also been staking their claim in Kabul.

Factionalism fear

Shia Muslim leader, Saeed Anwari has been holding talks with Northern Alliance leader Mohammad Fahim.

Northern Alliance: Talks in Kabul
Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance's political leader, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who is still recognised by the UN as president of Afghanistan, is still to arrive in Kabul. His interior minister denied a report by the Russian news agency Interfax on Thursday that Mr Rabbani had gone to the capital.

And around the eastern city of Jalalabad, men loyal to Yunus Khalis, a mujahideen party leader who has been largely silent for years, are now staking a claim in areas where they once fought Soviet troops.

Mr Khalis is not allied to the Northern Alliance, and the re-emergence of such independent operators is a worrying sign of the factionalism which Afghanistan could so easily fall into once more.

It is against this background that the American-led coalition is planning to send forces into Afghanistan.

The UN is trying at speed to arrange a meeting between all the Afghan factions, to discuss the formation of a broad-based transitional government for the country.

The BBC's David Loyn
"The Hazaras have secured peace in Bahmian... but their move on the capital may be a step too far"
The BBC's William Reeve in Kabul
"Frictions are already emerging"
See also:

15 Nov 01 | South Asia
Western aid workers released
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Ethnic divisions fuel Afghan fears
16 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Can enemies rule together?
11 Oct 01 | Middle East
Fleeing the war zone
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan powerbrokers: Who's who
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