Middle East

November 13, 2009

Taliban gain foothold in once-stable Afghan north

The insurgents' tactics are familiar. Night letters warn village elders to cooperate or face death. Religious "taxes" must be paid, and fiery sermons in mosques attack the Karzai government and international forces. The locale is startling, however: Afghanistan's northern Balkh province, which in the years after the fall of the Taliban emerged as one of the most stable — and in its urban hub of Mazar-i-Sharif — most prosperous places in Afghanistan.

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