In fact, you are almost as likely to come across a Taliban fighter, residents of Khawaja Ghar and surrounding settlements say, as militants waging an increasingly bold insurgency to overthrow the government roam with impunity on its doorstep.

The presence of the hardline Islamist group so close to the capital is not new. For years it has used areas of Deh Sabz to fire inaccurate, and usually ineffective rockets at Kabul and its airport to try to disrupt daily life.

But the brief capitulation of the northern city of Kunduz last month, the first provincial capital to fall to the insurgents in 14 years, has highlighted the vulnerability of major urban centres to Taliban attacks.

“The Taliban are from this place, and they have support among people here,” resident Mohammad Rasoul told Reuters during a recent visit to the area about five miles northeast of Kabul.

“They come and knock on our door and introduce themselves as the Taliban and ask for food and water; we give it to them,” added the farmer, who is in his 40s. “They haven’t harassed anyone and we have no problem with them.”

Local officials play down the significance of the Taliban so close to the capital, and security experts say they do not have the capability to capture Kabul, given its size and the presence of large numbers of local and foreign troops.

Kunduz, 230 km (140 miles) north of the capital, has a population of around 300,000, one tenth that of Kabul.

“The Taliban do not physically exist in Deh Sabz, but sometimes bring rockets from other areas and use the district as a launch pad,” said district chief Mohammad Gul Sharafat. “Their activities do not threaten the district or Kabul city.”

However, Sharafat warned against travelling to villages like Khawaja Ghar, its mud homes set at the foot of rugged mountains that surround the capital.

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