The huge green military truck rumbled and belched as its driver waited for the signal. The snub nose of a Soviet Scud missile poked above the cab. A soldier slowly lifted the striped pole blocking the road, and a small arsenal began a historic journey from the militia lairs of the Panjshir Valley to the safekeeping of the Afghan government. The convoy of loaded missile launchers, tanks and artillery pieces left Panjshir Wednesday morning en route to an Afghan army compound in Kabul, 70 miles to the south. There, they would be turned over to central authorities, 15 years after ethnic Tajik insurgents seized them from the Afghan government during the insurgents’ long fight against Soviet occupation. Although some weapons remained behind in the valley and some militia commanders reportedly resisted the move, officials said the political significance of the transfer was enormous, given the deep rivalries and mistrust between the Tajiks of the Panjshir and the two-year-old government headed by President Hamid Karzai, who is from the Pashtun ethnic group, Afghanistan’s largest. Full Story
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