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BBC: Battle for loyalty in lush Afghan valley

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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 06:54 AM
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BBC: Battle for loyalty in lush Afghan valley

"If Americans stop paying today, I am confidently telling you that nobody will help them tomorrow
Khair Mohammed Jeleran elder

Battle for loyalty in lush Afghan valley
22 April 2011 Last updated at 19:30 ET

Afghanistan's lush Arghandab valley was the site of fierce fighting between the Taliban and US-led forces. Afterwards the US poured in millions to entice people back. But, as the BBC's Quentin Sommerville found out, they may yet be in a bidding war with the Taliban for the villagers' loyalty.

The final straw for Abdul Hakim was when the Americans bombed his village. Last year he lived for months caught between American guns and Taliban bombs, as his small village of Jeleran became the front line in the fight to control this valley, and to the south, Kandahar city.

Many months later, back in his home, he points to deep cracks within his mud compound walls. All the windows are gone. He says his home was damaged while he was still living there, when the Americans dropped a bomb nearby.

"When they dropped the bomb, people in the village thought that it was too difficult for them to continue living here and we all fled," he said. All 30 families left.

The Taliban moved in during the fighting and thick, deep orchards gave them cover - it was cool enough to sleep in there at night. The Americans' thermal cameras couldn't spy body heat through the thick canopy of pomegranate trees
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