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Villages Hold Key in Fight for Control of Afghanistan

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Villages Hold Key in Fight for Control of Afghanistan

Villages Hold Key in Fight for Control of Afghanistan

Villages Hold Key in Fight for Control of Afghanistan

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Neyaz Mohammad Sarhadi is district chief of the Panjwai District. He works out of an office at one end of the Panjwai Bazaar, which is one block away from where a suicide bomber killed himself and 21 villagers. Many were wounded. Jim Wildman, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jim Wildman, NPR

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The Panjwai District is about a 30-minute drive from the center of Kandahar. Drivers making this turn can only go as far as the district center at the Panjwai Bazaar. That's where the road ends. Jim Wildman, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jim Wildman, NPR

The Panjwai District is about a 30-minute drive from the center of Kandahar. Drivers making this turn can only go as far as the district center at the Panjwai Bazaar. That's where the road ends.

Jim Wildman, NPR

Five years after the American-led coalition attacked and drove out the Taliban, much has improved in Afghanistan. Five times more children are in school, a third of them girls. A paved highway connects Kabul to Afghanistan's other big cities — Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west. A president and a parliament have been elected.

But now the Taliban have reemerged as a threat to the new Afghanistan. They're trying to take the area around Kandahar back.

In fact, they dared to take a stand against Canadian troops under NATO command — and lost more than 500 fighters. It was a victory for NATO on the battlefield.

But the Taliban are hardly gone. They've resorted to suicide bombings, improvised explosives and lobbing rocket-propelled grenades at soldiers. Now the fight is taking place not as much on battlefields but in villages like Panjwai, near Kandahar.

Who wins will ultimately come down to who wins over the local people.

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