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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Advancing Opposition Strikes Fear In Residents

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Sitting hunched in a wooden chair outside his bicycle parts store in north Kabul, Saeed Abbas said he feared war would soon land on his doorstep.

Bolstered by its victories in northern Afghanistan and the fall of the key cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat, the opposition is now turning its sights on Kabul, the capital of this war-shattered country.

"We hear the bombs falling on the front line, and now that Mazar-i-Sharif is gone, we know that they will soon be coming here," Abbas said Sunday.

Abbas is an ethnic Tajik like the titular head of the Northern Alliance, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and many of the fighters who make up the anti-Taliban opposition.

However, the prospect of his fellow Tajiks and others in the alliance again seizing power in Kabul frightens Abbas. He and others remember the bitter infighting, the daily rocket barrages and the constant fear of death that marked the four years when factions now allied against the Taliban ruled Kabul.

From 1992 until the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996, the factions turned the city into a war zone, with each group controlling parts of the urban area. They flattened entire neighborhoods with rockets and mortars and planted land mines and booby traps across vast areas.

U.S. President George W. Bush has urged the opposition not to take Kabul before a new, broad-based government could be formed. But some opposition commanders at the front line north of the city are eager to advance.

The northern alliance largely represents minority ethnic groups, such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. These ethnic groups dominate the northern half of the country, where the alliance has made substantial gains.

The backbone of the Taliban is ethnic Pashtuns, the dominant group nationwide.

"I don't care who is Tajik, who is Pashtun, who is Uzbek," Abbas said. "All I care about is that peace comes to Kabul."

Abbas' fears are shared by many others in this city of 1 million.

"We have no money," said Abdul Ahad, speaking in his threadbare, one-room cement shop in the city's Khair Khana district. "We can't escape."

Saeed Ghana stepped into Ahad's knickknack shop and squatted down on the bicycle in one corner. He listened for a while before introducing himself.

"I was a pilot," he said. "Now I am a porter." Ghana said he flew Russian-made MiG-21s for the pro-communist government during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

"Fighting has created a desert in this country. One leader is the same as another," Ghana said. "The people are not important, only power."

A half-dozen men who have gathered all shake their heads in agreement.

Abdul Kabir, who clears unexploded ordnance from the city, said he has little hope for peace.

"We have nowhere to go and no one who will bring an end to all our suffering," Kabir said as he browsed through used household items such as chipped plates and a bundle of forks tied with an elastic band.

"Our stomachs are empty, our children have no future. What is left for us?"