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Afghan president okays Kandahar offensive

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai gave the go-ahead to a major security crackdown in the Taliban birthplace of Kandahar, assuring residents the operation was aimed at battling corruption and bad government as much as insurgents.

world Updated: Jun 15, 2010 01:11 IST

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai gave the go-ahead to a major security crackdown in the Taliban birthplace of Kandahar, assuring residents the operation was aimed at battling corruption and bad government as much as insurgents.

Hundreds of tribal and religious leaders, sitting cross-legged in a steamy conference hall, publicly endorsed the plan on Sunday, although Afghan officials acknowledged skepticism remains over the operation seen as a turning point in the nearly nine-year-old war.

Afghan and international forces already have started to ramp up security, raising fears among the estimated half-million people living in and around the city that military action will lead to more bloodshed.

Karzai worked to allay those fears, saying the operation would not resemble a heavy military offensive replete with tanks and airstrikes that could endanger civilians.