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U.S. 'Lawmen' Ride Into Town

RESPONSE TO TERROR

Afghanistan: The Army starts patrolling Kandahar, helping the new government secure the city's streets.

December 14, 2001|JOHN DANISZEWSKI and KIM MURPHY | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

"Right now we have 720 people for the security of Kandahar city, and only 80 to 90 uniforms," he said. "We need them all in uniform as soon as possible to bring peace and security to Kandahar city."

Akram said that in the last three days, his security forces had confiscated 3,000 weapons and dismantled 120 illegal checkpoints. They also secured the compounds of foreign nongovernmental organizations that had been occupied and looted by Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters before they fled the city. "Those organizations can come back and start work again as soon as possible," he said. "We invite them and guarantee 100% no one will touch them. We need these organizations very badly, and we want them to come back and begin work."

But taking weapons away from the civilian population may be harder than it sounds. After two decades of civil war, nearly everyone has firearms, and hardly anyone can think of a good reason to give them up.

In the district of Sarpoza Dorahi, a group of men sat lazily on the ground in front of a shop, all of them cradling weapons.

They seemed surprised that anyone would talk of taking them away. "This order is due to foreign people interfering," said one of the men, Akdar Moha.

"For 25 years we distributed a lot of weapons to the population. I don't think this order to remove them will be acceptable to everyone. I will keep this gun, for the sake of Islam. If Islam comes to my country in peace, only then will I give it away."

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