OT -- Afghan airport is "security free"

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Wrecked airport is security free


KABUL airport is virtually without security, having been wrecked by years of fighting among rivals in the Afghan conflict. The ramshackle airport building is guarded by a few Taleban soldiers and the airfield is littered with the wreckage of destroyed aircraft.

There is no X-ray machine for baggage and passengers are often seen carrying a vast amount of luggage without being examined. A Western journalist recently saw an Arab boarding a plane carrying several pistols.

It is not difficult to conceal weapons inside the sprawling traditional Afghan dress and turban and, therefore, it is not surprising that a number of heavily armed people managed to get on to a weekend flight to Mazar-i-Sharif without interference.

Security at other Afghan airports is even worse than at Kabul, although before the United Nations imposed sanctions Ariana, Afghanistan's national carrier, had about 1,500 staff in several countries. With the sanctions banning Ariana from international airports, the airline runs only domestic flights. It has just three Boeing 727s and three Antonov 24s.

The Security Council imposed the sanction last November after international condemnation of the Taleban movement's refusal to to extradite or expel Osama bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist suspect who is officially a "guest" of the Islamic movement.

-- Ceemeister (ceemeister@hotmail.com), February 08, 2000

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