Wednesday, November 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Alliance captures Kabul
Fleeing Taliban loot cash, goods from shops
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, November 13
Click to enlarge. Making a dramatic advance, the opposition Northern Alliance forces captured Afghan capital Kabul this morning taking over the presidential palace and other major installations amidst scenes of chaos and jubilation driving away Taliban fighters to their southern stronghold of Kandahar.

Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, thousands of Alliance troops swept into the city without much resistance forcing a full-scale Taliban retreat taking over the presidential palace and other major public buildings, including the state-run Bakhtar news agency, Iran’s state-run television reported.

Vowing to secure order in Kabul, plagued by widespread looting, the opposition deployed police units and other security forces in all corners of the city.

Some Arab volunteers serving the Taliban were summarily shot as looting broke out in the city, reports reaching here said.

The Alliance military chief, Gen Mohammad Qasim Fahim, and Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah have arrived in Kabul, the Iranian television said. The advance followed sweeping gains across the north of the country.

Though the capture of Kabul, ruled by the Taliban for nearly five years, is a major triumph in the US-led coalition’s war against terrorism, it has put Washington in a diplomatic quandary as it had cautioned the Alliance forces not to move into the city till a broad-based post-Taliban government in Afghanistan took shape.

The USA pondered the fallout of this unexpected development.

Reacting to the entry of opposition troops into Kabul, Pakistan said no single entity should occupy the Afghan capital and it should be demilitarised.

“Our position is that it is better if Kabul remains demilitarised and no single entity takes over Kabul,” Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan said.

As the Taliban retreated from Kabul, they took with them eight foreign aid workers — four Germans, two Australians and two Americans — accused of spreading Christianity in Afghanistan.

Millions of dollars are reported to have been stolen from the main market by the fleeing Taliban militia. Armed Alliance soldiers were seen chasing looters carrying computers, carpets and other goods from the market.

Huge crowds gathered in the city shouting “death to Pakistan” and “death to Taliban” as opposition forces entered Kabul. The atmosphere along the road to Kabul was festive with tears and shouts of death to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The Iranian TV showed images of people shouting “victory, victory” and flashing the “V” sign with their fingers.

Dozens of people threw their black turbans, a symbol of the Taliban regime, and Radio Afghanistan began broadcasting music for the first time in five years.

Another pleasant surprise was a woman’s voice on the air presenting news, an unheard of event under the Taliban.

Dozens of captured Taliban fighters surrounded by angry crowds, burnt out and abandoned cars were also shown on TV.

There were also reports of groups of Afghans storming a prison in the western city of Herat liberating around 1,000 prisoners. Herat was captured yesterday after a popular uprising against the Taliban. PTI



USA fears blood-letting

Washington, November 13
The quick Northern Alliance drive into Kabul has left the USA with a dilemma — how to prevent a bloodletting by the tribal fighters that will make it harder to govern Afghanistan and to get Osama bin Laden.

The White House said today that President George W. Bush was “very pleased’’. However, reports that the key US allies were shooting prisoners and looting revived fears of the bloody reprisals that marked Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

LONDON: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday there was an urgent need for a UN presence in Kabul to fill a power vacuum left by the Taliban. Mr Blair told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the need to forge a new broad-based government in Afghanistan. Reuters



Alliance broke promise: ex-king’s aide

Rome, November 13
A senior adviser to Afghanistan’s exiled king, seen as a key player in the country’s political future, said today that the Northern Alliance had broken their agreement with the monarch by entering Kabul.

“It is against the agreement they made with us,’’ Abdul Sattar Sirat told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“We did not expect that they would enter Kabul. We wanted Kabul to be demilitarised and that the Kabul Government and administration should come under a political process,’’ he said.

“This process is not arranged yet so it was something unexpected for us and we are concerned about the security situation in Kabul. We are concerned about civilians because they entered without the political process taking place,’’ he said.

Fighters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance entered Kabul early today. Former Afghan King Zahir Shah, who has been living in exile in Rome since 1973, is seen by many members of the international community, including the USA and the United Nations, as a vital figure of unity in the future of the country. Reuters



Zahir’s son welcomes fall of Kabul

Paris, November 13
Mirwais Zahir, son of former Afghan king Mohammed Zahir Shah, today welcomed the fall of Kabul and praised a new pledge by the victorious Northern Alliance to remain committed to a peace process under his father.

“Their commitment is quite praiseworthy. It is good that they seem to be standing by the promises they have made,” he said.

“We hope the issue of governing Kabul is solved as soon as possible,” he said on telephone from Rome.

The alliance forces entered the Afghan capital Kabul today morning after the Taliban troops pulled out towards their south-western stronghold of Kandahar.

A senior anti-Taliban official, Younis Qanooni, in Kabul said the alliance had no plans to rule the country and remains committed to a peace process under the former King, saying “We are just here to keep security and stop criminals from bothering our citizens.” AFP


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