N.Y. Times


LOY KAREZ, Afghanistan — When Haji Lalai Mama, the 60-year-old tribal elder in these parts, gamely tried to organize a village defense force against the Taliban recently, he had to do it with a relative handful of men and just three rifles. “We were patrolling and ready,” he recalled.

But they were not ready enough. The Taliban surprised them under cover of darkness by using a side road. One villager was killed, and 10 others were wounded by a grenade. Two Taliban fighters were captured in the clash. The rest disappeared into the night.

The men at Loy Karez were exceptional in making a stand at all. Few in southern Afghanistan are ready to stand up to the Taliban, at least not without greater support or benefits from the Afghan government.

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