Church-sponsored aid workers on the border with Afghanistan say time is running out for the international community to prevent a bloodbath inside Afghanistan.

"We need a massive influx of troops, not under the guise of protecting humanitarian aid, because we know best how to do that, but rather to simply stand between the warring armies and stop the country from falling into chaos," said a European church worker here who asked not to be identified.

While church workers on the Afghan-Pakistani border are not afraid to speak openly about relief operations, many say they are reluctant to make public political statements because they have to carry out their work in a treacherous political landscape.

In the dusty frontier town of Peshawar of more than a million Afghan refugees, aid workers fear they are about to watch history repeat itself. Following the ouster of the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, the country was torn apart by civil war.

Aid workers say the ethnic Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara warlords of the Northern Alliance, who have taken over several cities inside Afghanistan, are not very different from the Taliban, who came from the country's large ethnic Pashtun population.

"They are the liberators of Kabul today, just as the Taliban were the liberators of Kabul five years ago when they freed people from the grasp of the guys who form the Northern Alliance today," said Geir Valle, director of operations here for Norwegian Church Aid.

Valle argued for a rapid intervention by armed United Nations troops rather than U.S. and British soldiers. "The U.N. has more legitimacy and would be more acceptable to more Afghans at this point," Valle said. "And the British have been thrown out of Afghanistan three times ...

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