Sunday, November 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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Taliban men lay down arms
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, November 24
Hundreds of Taliban fighters surrendered today with their weapons to the Northern Alliance in the besieged Afghan town of Kunduz even as the militia forces strengthened defence in the southern city of Kandahar, their headquarters.

There were conflicting reports about the surrender of hardcore Taliban foreign fighters — Pakistanis, Arabs, Chechens and Uzbek — loyal to Osama bin Laden.

About 1,000 militiamen in four trucks crossed the Bangi bridge out of the northwest of Kunduz this morning and surrendered with their weapons before the Alliance forces which tightened the siege of the city.

Northern Alliance, which has amassed some 30,000 troops around the Taliban’s last stronghold in the north, warned those fighters who do not surrender the city will be attacked and killed or arrested and tried in Afghanistan.

Another batch of about 700 militia fighters surrendered in the east to Alliance commander Mohammad Daoud Daoud.

“This process of surrendering has started and will be continuing,” Alliance spokesman Amanullah Khan was quoted by BBC as saying.

While some Alliance commanders said about 600 foreign fighters surrendered in the village of Qalai Qul Mohammad, west of Kunduz, other reports suggested that they were still holding the ground and refusing to give up.

Under a deal negotiated between the Alliance and the Taliban, foreign fighters would be under detention pending an investigation into their links to Bin Laden’s Al Qaida network and possible trial by Islamic courts in the country.

Pashtun tribesmen captured the strategic town of Takhtapul, some 40 km southeast of Kandahar, after an uprising by local people against the militia, cutting the main road to Pakistan.

Afghan Islamic Press quoting a Taliban spokesman said many tribesmen were killed in the retaliatory attack by the militia fighters.

The news agency also reported that Taliban had turned back an attack by another local force to the west of Kandahar.

Near Kabul, fighting continued in Maidan Shahr where Alliance forces have been attacking Taliban holdouts while the USA carried out bombing raids in the area outside Jalalabad. PTI
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"35 US commandos killed"
Muhammad Najeeb

Islamabad, November 24
At least 35 US commandos have been killed and many injured in an attack by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, media reports said on Saturday.

The USA had launched an attack against the Taliban and members of terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network on Thursday, backed by helicopter gunships, The News daily said.

But the US Special Force commandos allegedly came under heavy firing by the Taliban as soon as the helicopters dropped them. The choppers immediately flew back to rescue the men.

The News quoting unnamed sources said the bodies of the US commandos had been brought to Jacobabad airbase in Pakistan. The paper said 10 C-130 aircraft were ready to dispatch the bodies to the USA

The Pentagon and Central Command (Centcom) are perturbed over this development and there are reports of immediate measures being contemplated to counter the situation, the paper said.

The US Embassy and army sources are tight-lipped about the incident. Sources in Jacobabad have confirmed unusual movement of US helicopters from the airport there, which is being used by US allied forces for rescue operations.

This is one of the heaviest casualties suffered by the US Army since they launched attacks against the Taliban on October 7, the paper said.

“The US troops were caught by surprise. So intense was the attack that the Special Forces personnel had to quickly withdraw without any operational achievement,” said the paper.

In the attack one US helicopter crashed in Afghanistan while another “hit” chopper later crashed in Pakistan, it said.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Islamabad has issued a warning to its citizens, specially the American journalists present in Pakistan, not to travel to Afghanistan.

“The US Embassy reminds all Americans who are in Pakistan, including journalists, that the US Department of State Travel Warning for Afghanistan advises against all travel to Afghanistan,” a US Embassy press release said.

It said the situation in Afghanistan remains fluid. “Security throughout the country, including areas around Kabul and other major cities, is poor and inconsistent, making all travel by road dangerous,” it said. IANSBack

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