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Taliban Allegedly Threatens Tribal Elders In Southern Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Some 70 tribal elders in the Panjwaji region of Kandahar Province have received letters threatening them with death unless they leave the country within five days, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA) reports.

Hajji Agha Lalai Dastagiri, a member of Kandahar's provincial council, showed the letters, which bear Taliban stamps, to an RFA correspondent.

Dastagiri told RFA on July 29 that this is the first time the insurgents have sent such warnings to individual tribal elders. He said the 70 men are only tribal elders and have no connections to the government.

But Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi told RFA by telephone that he knows nothing about the warnings. He added that the Taliban have been targeting people who work with the government of President Hamid Karzai and foreigners.

According to the Afghan authorities, more than 500 tribal elders have been killed in Kandahar Province over the past five years.