Military recruiting slashes ranks of Afghan students

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A hectic military conscription drive in Afghanistan has more than halved applications to Kabul University this year, Western diplomats said. For the first time in the university's history, female applicants outnumbered males, the diplomats said, which is unusual in an Islamic state.

They said the only men permitted to take the entrance exam were those who had completed military service in the Soviet-backed government war against rebels. Diplomats have reported in the past few months an intense conscription drive to boost Afghanistan's depleted armed forces to 170,000 men by the Afghan new year, five weeks from now.

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