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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 11:30 GMT
Taleban 'regroup' in Afghanistan
A displaced family outside a refugee camp in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan
Spin Boldak is home to many refugees who fled the war

The Afghan Government is taking steps to tackle a reported regrouping of Taleban and al-Qaeda factions in the south of the country.

Around 5,000 police have been sent to the southern town of Spin Boldak, near the border with Pakistan.

Sources have told the BBC that some former Taleban activists are trying to re-group in the region.

There have also been reports of clashes between alleged Taleban activists and Afghan government forces in the area.

The districts of Loye Karaiz and Bala Jar in Spin Boldak were the areas affected by the fighting.

Escaped

The head of security in the city, Mama Ubaidullah, told the BBC they had information that a wanted Taleban leader, Hafiz Abdur Rahim, was living there.

He was believed to be staying in the Loye Karaiz area - but may have escaped the city altogether.

During one clash with an alleged Taleban group, Mr Ubaidullah said the security forces killed four people and injured four others.

A further five people were arrested.

Confidence

He said all nine surviving suspects were sent to Kandahar for further interrogation.

Mr Ubaidullah was confident there was no difficulty in establishing peace in the area.

Afghan army troops
Afghan troops are also being trained by the US
He said the Taleban, while under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Umar, had achieved nothing and questioned the power of just 10 or 12 activists.

Spin Boldak's administrative officer, Hajji Fazal Din Agha, confirmed that several clashes had recently taken place.

He said officials had been tipped off that a group of Hizb-e-Islami or al-Qaeda militants was planning to regroup in the area - but Afghan forces raided their hideout and arrested two people.

Tight security

The Pakistani authorities maintain strict security measures on their side of the border.

A fortnight ago, some Afghans were arrested after crossing the border illegally - but were later released.

Pakistan has reportedly deployed about 60,000 troops along the 1,400 kilometre Pakistan-Afghan border.

The US has reportedly provided aid worth about $73m to keep an eye on the border.

As part of the package, several helicopters, a large number of vehicles and communications equipment were recently provided to the border forces.


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15 Jan 03 | South Asia
25 Dec 02 | South Asia
29 Jun 02 | South Asia
26 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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