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Afghanistan's 'tough fight'

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Mountains behind barbed wire in Afghanistan

A decade ago, coalition forces arrived in Afghanistan with the aim of dismantling al-Qaeda and preventing its followers from using the country as a base.

Since then, the violence has worsen rather than improved, particularly for ordinary Afghans.

In the first in a series of reports from the country, Mike Thomson investigated the difficulty authorities have in imposing democracy and the rule of law.

"Clearly we're in a tough fight here, and there have been a lot of casualties," US ambassador Ryan Crocker told him. "This is a vicious and determined adversary."

The Afghan-led security operation is getting stronger in Kabul, according to the city's police chief Lt General Ayoub Salangi. But he is worried about the withdrawal of international forces.

"For their own security, as well as our own, Western countries should stand beside Afghans and continue fighting the terrorist, until they are all gone," he said.

The security problems are hampered by a massive black market, run with the collusion of politicians and protected by armed militia, according to economist Dr Saifuddin Saihoon.

"The international community tried to bring democracy to Afghanistan with the help of people who are not democrats, who do not even believe in democracy," he said.

And yet, beyond the corruption and criminality within, the main risk to life continues to be the Taliban insurgency, whose roadside bombs and suicide attacks have killed an estimated 2,500 people since January 2009.

Zabibulahh Mujahid, the organisation's regional spokesperson, said that the increased security in Kabul was not stopping their activities.

"People in major cities are providing Taliban fighters with food, with shelter, addresses and maps," he explained.

"Recently we have carried out high-profile attacks in Kabul and other major cities. We wouldn't be able to carry out those attacks if we didn't have the support of the local people."


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