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Sunday, 18 November, 2001, 15:53 GMT
Pakistan seals Afghan border
Afghan men waiting on border with Pakistan
There is fear that Taleban fighters will escape
By Adam Brookes on the Afghan border

Pakistani army officers say they have completely sealed their border with southern Afghanistan to prevent Taleban fighters escaping into Pakistan.

They say only the most vulnerable of refugees are being allowed across the border.

Afghan woman and her children on border with Pakistan
Only families with young children are crossing
Situated just a few metres from the border with southern Afghanistan, a road which is normally alive with commercial traffic and food aid pouring into Afghanistan is now almost completely empty.

The Pakistani officers based here told us that their principal worry is Taleban fighters trying to make their escape into Pakistan.

The soldiers say that they now have patrols, sensors and night vision equipment deployed along the border - from the deserts to the west, right through to the mountains in the east.

Turned back

Looking over the border from Pakistan groups of young Afghan men, who have been turned back, are clearly visible on the other side of the barbed wire.

It is terribly hard to say which of them might be Taleban, so Pakistan is keeping them all out.

Only families with young children are being allowed to cross into the dusty refugee camp nearby.

Two hundred and seventy families were allowed to cross on Sunday - about 1,000 people.

Uncertainty

They are fleeing the uncertainty that is engulfing southern Afghanistan.

Kandahar, the strategic key to the south, is one of the last Taleban strongholds and it is the city that might yield up the secret of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.

Pashtun tribal groups say they are negotiating directly with the Taleban in Kandahar to get them to leave, but there is no indication whether and when that is going to happen.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Matt Frei in Chaman on the Afghan border
"The Taleban are clearly still at the border and still in charge"
See also:

11 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan refugees moved from border
07 Nov 01 | South Asia
Refugees brave another cold night
11 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan refugees moved to camps
17 Nov 01 | South Asia
Taleban vow to defend Kandahar
18 Nov 01 | South Asia
Where is Bin Laden?
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