Monday, November 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kunduz taken, says Northern Alliance

Taloqan, Afghanistan, November 26 
The Northern Alliance said its forces had captured the city of Kunduz, the last bastion of the Taliban and their foreign comrades in northern Afghanistan, on Monday.

"We have captured Kunduz and there is no fighting," alliance spokesman Alauddin told Reuters by satellite telephone from the town of Arganak, just west of Kunduz.

Another alliance spokesman said Mohammad Daoud, the main anti-Taliban commander in the northeast, had advanced into Kunduz a day after allied troops encroached on the besieged city.

"General Daoud and his forces entered Kunduz from the north side after brief fighting," Qudratullah Hurmat said.

He said hundreds of Taliban and foreign fighters Pakistanis, Chechens and Arabs linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network trapped in Kunduz for days had surrendered to ethnic Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum and former Mujahideen commander Ustad Attah in Arganak in the past 24 hours. ReutersBack


US Marines build "formidable force" in Afghanistan

On Board USS Peleliu, Arabian Sea, November 26
US Marines seized a secret desert airstrip in southern Afghanistan on Sunday to set up a forward air base for the next stage of the war against Taliban and the al Qaida organisation, a US General said on Monday.

General James Mattis said the base would be used to bring in more ground troops for the next stage of the war, codenamed "Operation Swift Freedom".

"We have landed and we now own terrain in south Afghanistan. We are going to support the Afghan people's effort to free themselves of the terrorists and the people who support terrorists," Mattis told reporters on the Peleliu, a US marines assault ship sailing in the Arabian Sea.

Officers on board said the marines secured the airstrip, within striking distance of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, without firing a shot in the initial assault on Sunday night.

By Monday, more troops and equipment had been ferried in by KC-130 Hercules aircraft, the officers said. They declined to give specific numbers of troops on the ground but said the marines were building up a "formidable force".

"In short order you will have 1,000 plus marines in the backyard of the Taliban," said Colonel Peter Miller, chief of staff of Task Force 58, which comprises nearly 9,000 marines and sailors, including marine expeditionary units of 2,100 marines each, in the North Arabian sea. ReutersBack


Alliance believes bin Laden with Mullah Omar

Kabul, November 26
Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said on Monday he believed Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and fugitive militant Osama bin Laden were in the same area and pinned down by opposition forces.

"I think Osama and his forces are contained, they are not free to operate throughout the country," Abdullah told a news conference.

He said Northern Alliance troops would not be sent to Kandahar province, where US ground forces landed overnight to join local tribesmen in a planned assault on the Taliban's last strongholds in the south.

"There is no such idea of sending troops from here to Kandahar. This is not on the table. But some commanders are being sent there to help," Abdullah said. ReutersBack

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