Well, not really shocked, I mean, that the Bushadmin left the Kabul problem for the no flyzone and Islamic state of Iraq on behalf of his Daddy's vendetta:<br><br>Lookie this article, whoa!<br><br>Don't Blowtorch That Missile: Afghans Clean Up<br>Fri Oct 1, 2004 03:35 AM ET<br>By Peter Graff<br><br>KABUL (Reuters) - On a flinty hill overlooking Kabul, Ahmed Naseer leads a team of the mine-clearing charity Halo Trust, dismantling the wreckage of 78 huge Soviet anti-aircraft missiles that once formed Afghanistan's 99th Rocket Brigade.<br><br>The rockets were probably already old when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in 1979, but nobody ever got around to dismantling them until U.S. B-52 jets blasted the hillside when coalition forces invaded in 2001.<br><br>Today the missiles lie twisted in storage tubes next to the rusty shrapnel piles of their launching trucks. Many of them are loaded with toxic and explosive rocket fuel, and some are still armed with live warheads.<br><br>Halo Trust teams pry them open with giant pneumatic metal cutters. Blowtorches are better for cutting steel, but might blow the whole thing up.<br><br>"We have to be very careful," Naseer explains.<br><br>His Halo Trust colleague Rob Pavey shows off one missile the group found jammed in its tube. Just this week, thieves cut it open with a blowtorch at night. They carried away the nose cone and the base of the missile for scrap, leaving just the armed warhead lying on the ground.<br><br>"There's about 40 kilos of high-explosive in here and a jacket of 4,800 ball bearings," Pavey says.<br><br>"We're trying to find out who did this. Frankly, I'd like to hire him: someone up there must be looking out for him. How he managed to stay alive, I don't know." Superhuman tribal warriors perhaps!<br><br>The past three years have been the closest Afghanistan has come to peace in decades. But the dangerous detritus of more than two decades of war is everywhere. The cost of clearing and cleaning it is staggering, but a necessary step on the road to peace.<br><br>Next week, Afghans hold their first ever contested presidential election, but conflict is still simmering.<br><br>In the south of the country, a mostly U.S. force of 18,000 troops is battling remnants of the ousted Taliban, forced from power in 2001.<br>Kerry, Bush Head for Swing States After Debate<br><br>U.S. Forces Storm Iraqi Town, Say 94 Rebels Killed<br><br>Focus Group Gives Slight Edge to Kerry<br><br><br>MORE<br><br><br>In other parts of the country, warlord armies assembled during decades of civil war still mount the occasional skirmish.<br><br>DISARM, DEMOBILIZE<br><br>The United Nations has organized a massive, Japanese-funded "disarm, demobilize and reintegrate" effort to get guns out of the hands of some of the militia that have stalked the country for a generation. The task has proved a great deal more difficult than expected.<br><br>Afghanistan's authorities estimated there were a quarter of a million soldiers who would need to go through the program. The U.N. guessed the number was closer to 100,000.<br><br>The program was due to be finished last June. But so far just 24,000 fighters have disarmed, giving up their AK-47 rifles and for sacks of flour, agricultural tools or job assistance.<br><br>"The rate of progress as far as disarmament is concerned has been disappointing," the program's deputy director, Paul Cruickshank, acknowledged to reporters in Kabul. He blamed commanders reluctant to give up their private armies.<br><br>Cruickshank's group has now also been tasked with gathering all of the heavy weaponry scattered across the country, partially dismantling it, and trucking it to "cantonment" centers where it will be left to rot.<br><br>Littered around Afghanistan they found 5,690 heavy weapons, including 695 tanks and 774 armored personnel carriers. In comparison, the British army has 543 tanks.<br><br>About two-thirds of the heavy weapons in Afghanistan are deemed "serviceable." Of those, the United Nations has managed to collect about half, loading them onto heavy trucks with cranes and driving them over Afghanistan's treacherous mountain roads.<br><br>Just the diesel fuel bill for the effort has cost $2.6 million already. The winter months will make the transport nearly impossible. And the U.N. teams have yet to try to pry the tanks loose from some of the toughest militia, like the ethnic Tajiks of the Panjsher valley.<br><br>Near the wreckage of the anti-aircraft missiles, Naseer of the Halo Trust has set up a table with land mines, to show visitors the charity's main area of work. It employs 2,000 Afghans, who squat in body armor and face shields, sifting painstakingly through the yellow soil for mines.<br><br>The charity expects to have cleared all of Afghanistan's "priority one" areas - homes, schools, hospitals - by 2006.<br><br>"This is Russian. This is Iranian. This is American," Naseer says with a wry smile, holding up an assortment of mines. "Every country is sending us gifts.<br><br>[color:red]!sevaS trA</font color=red>
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