Friday, November 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Alliance encircles Kunduz
Uprising in Kandahar as Taliban pull back

Atta Mohammad (L), commander of the Helmand Province in Afghanistan, Mullah Malung (C), ex-commander in Kandahar, and Abdul Khaliq (R), supporter of ex-King Zahir Shah, listen to questions from the media during a Press conference in Quetta on Thursday. The former Mujahideen commanders announced a mission in which they wanted to end the war with the Taliban peacefully and warned the Northern Alliance not to head into the Afghan city of Kandahar. — Reuters photo

Taloqan, (Afghanistan), November 15
Around 20,000 besieged Taliban fighters in the northern city of Kunduz engaged in fierce fighting today with troops from Afghanistan’s opposition Northern Alliance.

Kunduz is the last city in the north of the country still held by the Taliban troops following a six-day blitzkrieg by the commanders grouped in the Northern Alliance that has forced the Taliban into what it has called a strategic retreat.

“There are 20,000 Taliban in Kunduz, many of them Arabs, and they are trying to break out,” said one Northern Alliance defence official in Dushanbe, the capital of neighbouring Tajikistan.

“They are desperate, they’ve seen what happens to Arabs when the Northern Alliance gets hold of them,” he said.

Many foreigners — including Pakistanis, Chechens and Arabs fighting for the Taliban under the umbrella of the Al-Qaida network of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden — have been killed or beaten up in the Northern Alliance advance.

They are widely hated in Afghanistan.

Fighting was raging around Kunduz and the Taliban forces would either surrender or face certain death.

“Last night two planes, perhaps Pakistani ones, landed at Kunduz airport and we think they evacuated Pakistanis and Arabs as well as (Uzbek dissident) Joomaye Namangani from there,” opposition spokesman Mohammad Habeel told Reuters.

Meanwhile, the people of the Southern Afghan city of Kandahar have risen up against the embattled Taliban and there was heavy fighting in the city today.

Hamid Karzai, in Afghanistan to drum up support for the return of ex-King Zahir Shah, told Reuters the Taliban were withdrawing heavy equipment from the city, the stronghold of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

“The people have totally risen against them,” Karzai said by satellite telephone from the central province of Uruzgan.

“The Kandahar people have taken to the city streets. The Taliban are withdrawing heavy equipment out of Kandahar.”

US war planes pounded targets near the town of Kunduz and the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

A US B-52 bomber pounded Taliban positions today around Kunduz, the last stronghold of the Islamic militia in northern Afghanistan.

An AFP reporter in Bangi town east of Kunduz, capital of the province of the same name, saw the B-52 unleash its deadly payload on Taliban positions at 8.30 a.m. (IST). Reuters, PTI, AFP


Pak seals Chaman border

Quetta, November 15
Pakistan today moved troops and tanks to its southern border with Afghanistan, a Reuters witness said.

A train carrying the soldiers and tanks was seen headed to the border town of Chaman as Pakistani border officials said they had sealed the frontier with Afghanistan in case Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden tries to sneak into the country to evade the US hunt for him.

The officials said not even trucks bringing Afghan fruit were allowed to enter Pakistan from the Chaman border crossing.

But trucks carrying relief goods were allowed to enter Afghanistan. Reuters


Rabbani announces amnesty

Dushanbe, November 15
Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani has announced a general amnesty soon after his arrival in the country.

Mr Rabbani who reached Kabul yesterday had called upon the Afghan people to unite and confirmed readiness to form a broad-based government in the country under the UN aegis including all political forces and ethnic groups, an Afghan Embassy statement released in Dushanbe said. Rabbani, who heads the Northern Alliance, was driven out of Kabul along with his forces in 1996 by the Taliban.

Rabbani holds Afghanistan’s seat in the United Nations, but is widely believed to lack the support of some Alliance members due to his decision to cling to power beyond his allotted six-month term. UNI

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