A South Korean envoy headed to Afghanistan Wednesday, hoping to win the release of 22 South Korean hostages taken by the Taliban last week. One hostage was killed Tuesday. Experts talk about the status of the fighters.
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For more on all of this, we get two views. Nazif Shahrani, an Afghan-American, is a professor of anthropology at Indiana University. He travels frequently to Afghanistan and was there last month.
David Isby is a political and defense analyst who has written three books on Afghan politics and on the Soviet invasion of that country.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Professor Shahrani, let me begin with you. That was a pretty chilling portrait we just saw. Is that consistent with what you know the Taliban to be up to right now in Afghanistan?
NAZIF SHAHRANI, Professor, Indiana University:
Yes, indeed. Taliban certainly have re-strengthened themselves. They are certainly keeping the promise they made earlier in the spring that they are going to have a major offensive during the summer, and they have kept it up. And, of course, the approach has been to kill Taliban and assuming that if we have killed more of them, we will win the war. We can see that his brother, Mansour Dadullah's brother, was killed not too long ago, and he has stepped in to carry on the fight in the struggle.
David Isby, what about you and your take on how strong the Taliban is right now?
DAVID ISBY, Political and Defense Analyst: Well, certainly, the Taliban are a sophisticated force. They get lots of support. You can see some of the equipment these people have. It's been estimated they're drawing up 8,000 to 9,000 guerillas.
And you have basically two things. You have a cross-border insurgency from Pakistan, but you also have areas in Afghanistan, a corridor up through Helmand, Kandahar, through Zabol and Oruzgan provinces in the central areas where there is an insurgency internally, as well.