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Karzai In Unannounced Visit To Afghan Battle Zone


Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai today made an unannounced visit to Marjah, the former Taliban stronghold in the country's south that has been the target of a massive allied offensive in recent weeks.

Accompanied by the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, Karzai addressed a meeting of Marjah elders.

He promised to provide security for the newly recaptured area, to open schools, and to build roads and clinics. He also listened to the elders' complaints.

Thousands of U.S.-led allied troops drove the Taliban out of most of Marjah last month, in the biggest offensive of the eight-year conflict.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location today that militants had fired rockets at a delegation that included Karzai.

A NATO official in Kabul said there had been a rocket or mortar strike on Marjah, but that no one was hurt.

compiled from agency reports