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ARKIB : 19/10/2003

Taliban remnants capture highway, beat people

KHOST (Afghanistan) Oct 18 - A group of Taliban guerrillas briefly captured a highway in southeastern Afghanistan and punished some passengers for shaving their beards and listening to music, witnesses said on Saturday.

The incident was the latest sign of growing activities of the remnants of the Taliban regime since it was thrown out of power in a US-led offensive in late 2001.

Witnesses said some 30 Taliban members also hoisted the radical militia's white flag on the road linking Khost and Paktia provinces at Kargha area and set up checkpoints for about three hours on Friday afternoon.

``They beat or slapped those who had trimmed or shaved their beards,'' said 18-year-old witness Mir Zaman.

``They told us that we should avoid shaving our beards and listening to music, otherwise the punishment would be harsher if they caught us next time,'' he told Reuters.

Other witnesses said they saw broken music tapes and pictures strewn in the area.

The radical Taliban, which won worldwide notoriety for its harsh interpretation of Islam, had banned music, forced men to grow beards and women to wear all-enveloping burqas or veils outside their houses during their five-year rule on most of Afghanistan.

Remnants of the radical militia have stepped-up their attacks on the US-led coalition and Afghan forces in recent months in which hundreds of people had been killed. - Reuters

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