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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 10:57 GMT
Taleban a spent force - Karzai
US troops return to their Bagram base after being withdrawn from Gardez
US forces are winding down military operations
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By Kate Clark
BBC Kabul correspondent

The Afghan interim leader, Hamid Karzai, says he believes the Taleban are now a spent force in Afghanistan, despite the continuing battle in the east of the country.

We were killed, we were looted and the world just watched

Hamid Karzai

Mr Karzai said Afghans would never again allow themselves to be ruled by what he called a few foreign terrorists.

The Afghan leader was speaking six months after the 11 September attacks in America.

The Afghan leader said the Taleban and al-Qaeda were no longer a danger for Afghanistan, but even so, he said, the world could not risk ignoring his country.

"Afghans and the international community both must pay tremendous attention to the rebuilding of this country, to bringing justice to the people of the country, to making sure that Afghans are not ruled by criminals anymore", he said.

Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai
Karzai: Zero tolerance of human rights abuses

"That was the main problem. The international community ignored Afghanistan. They did not respect the life of the Afghan people.

"We were brutalised, we were interfered with by foreigners. We were killed, we were looted and the world just watched."

Six months after the attacks on New York and Washington, Afghans have seen the Taleban and al-Qaeda swept away and an internationally recognised government put in their place.

Uncertain future

But human rights violations against Afghans did not start and have not ended with the Taleban.

Warlords are again in power, although sharing it with civilians like Mr Karzai.

The Afghan leader said that abuses would no longer be tolerated and as far as he was concerned there could be no amnesty for war criminals.

But he warned that Afghanistan was only just emerging from 20 years of absolute chaos.

It would take time, he said, to put everything in order.

See also:

11 Mar 02 | South Asia
Final battle looms in Afghan mountains
09 Mar 02 | South Asia
Afghan leader wants 'truth commission'
06 Mar 02 | South Asia
Afghan warlords forge new army
06 Mar 02 | South Asia
Pashtuns 'hit by reprisal attacks'
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