Afghanistan Without a Look Back

As the Soviets leave, rebels prepare to strike

Along the streets of the sleepy Soviet border town of Termez, anxious wives, restless children, curious journalists and proud military officers began to assemble shortly after dawn. As local Communist Party officials arranged a banquet of fruits and nuts on a long white-clothed table, a small troupe of Uzbek dancers rehearsed their steps. Seven Young Pioneers, their trademark red scarves flapping in the breeze, clutched flowers. Just after 11:30, a military band burst into lively music to greet the first of 60 armored personnel carriers rumbling into sight across the steel "Friendship Bridge" at the border. When the lead vehicle clattered...

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