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Taliban regrouping near Pakistan border

Chaman (Pakistan), Jan. 14 (Reuters): Remnants of Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime have begun regrouping near the southern border with Pakistan, Afghan officials said today.

Obaidullah, security chief of the southern border town of Spin Boldak, said minor clashes had been reported recently between Afghan forces and suspected members of the Taliban.

He said small groups of Taliban fighters, led by local commander Hafiz Abdur Rahim, were operating in Kandahar, the former stronghold of the radical Islamic militia, and other southern provinces.

“They are trying to persuade people to join a jihad. They carry out guerrilla activities in these areas and then flee to Pakistan,” he said. Afghan officials said last week that four people had been killed and one wounded in an armed clash between Afghan forces and Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan.

Two Taliban fighters were arrested after the firefight.

The Taliban’s resurgence in the border regions comes despite the presence in Afghanistan of thousands of US-led foreign troops pursuing the war on terror.

The Taliban regime was overthown in late 2001 when the US pounded Afghanistan with massive air strikes as part of its campaign against the al Qaida network of Osama bin Laden.

Many Taliban fighters took refuge in the rugged borderlands with Pakistan.

In recent days posters and pamphlets have appeared in border villages calling for a jihad against foreign troops. Residents of Spin Boldak said last week that posters threatening death to anyone who supported the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai appeared to be the work of Taliban supporters.

Khalid Pashtoon, a spokesman for Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai, said there was still a risk of militant attacks in the southern region.

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