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|Gunmen hijack 40 tonnes of food from UN aid lorries|
|01/18/02 at 17:56:31|
Some time ago somebody made a beautiful point on why there was limited security in the Afghan capital.
Gunmen hijack 40 tonnes of food from UN aid lorries
Ian Traynor in Kabul
Friday January 18, 2002
In a menacing sign of growing lawlessness in Afghanistan, two UN lorries carrying 40 tonnes of food aid were hijacked by gunmen while ferrying supplies to some of the 3m people in acute need in the country's north.
It was the first time since the large-scale aid operation got under way after the collapse of the Taliban regime that relief supplies have been hijacked.
The UN reported yesterday that two lorries had been stopped on Tuesday by gunmen on the road between Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, at the town of Aibak. The UN said the drivers had been ordered out of their cabs, taken away and beaten.
One lorry was driven to a military base where it was emptied of 20 tonnes of wheat. The other 20 tonnes were distributed among the people of Aibak, suggesting desperation was as much a motive for the hijack as banditry.
Jordan Dey, spokesman for the UN relief mission in Kabul, said aid lorries had been stopped before by gunmen demanding money and "transit fees". "We've not had a truck with this amount of food stolen at gunpoint," he said.
Despite the arrival of a limited British-led international security force in Kabul, security is also worsening in the capital. A voluntary curfew of 8pm is in force, with residents too frightened to appear on the streets after dark. Police say 750 cars have been stolen since November. Some of the drivers of the stolen cars were murdered.
In the past week 10,000 people have fled their homes and headed for Pakistan, in part because of the lawlessness which characterised Afghanistan in the early 1990s and contributed to the early welcome for the Taliban, whose edicts guaranteed security on the roads and in the cities.
Although thousands of refugees are returning from Pakistan and Iran, the 10,000 are encamped in freezing conditions at the border, barred from entering Pakistan.
The first internationally conducted opinion poll in Afghanistan in years, just completed, revealed that security and fear of warlords was the main anxiety. "Afghans want peace and security and the gunmen disarmed," said a UN spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, reporting the findings of the survey conducted by a New York polling institute.
But in Kabul, the security patrols of the international force are barely visible and clearly unpopular with the new Northern Alliance masters of the city. "There's no need for them," said Lieutenant-General Basir Salangi, a former alliance warlord who is now security chief of Kabul.
"We don't have any contact with them and we're happy they don't interfere in our affairs. If they do interfere, we'll tell them we had 23 years of war because of such interference."
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