Tuesday, November 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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US marines seize airstrip
Decisive battle for Kandahar begins

Islamabad, November 26
Marking a new phase in the military offensive, over 1,000 elite US marines today landed in southern Afghanistan in what could be a decisive battle for the capture of Taliban’s last remaining stronghold Kandahar as nearly 400 Taliban rebels, who staged a bloody uprising in a jail, were killed by American-backed Northern Alliance forces.

The Alliance forces took complete control of the northern city of Kunduz after a fierce battle with the diehard Taliban militia. Over 100 fighters from both sides were reported to have been killed in the battle.

Five thousand militia men along with some 700 foreign mercenaries laid down their weapons and surrendered to Afghan opposition in Kunduz.

Fighting continued at a fort near Mazar-e-Sharif where Alliance fighters supported by US strikes were engaged in putting down a revolt by hundreds of Taliban fighters, mainly foreigners, including Pakistanis and Arabs, taken prisoner after their surrender in Kunduz.

About 400 prisoners were killed by US bombing and Alliance troops leaving only a few rebels holed up inside the fortress, reports reaching here said.

As delegates began arriving in Bonn, Germany, for tomorrow’s crucial talks aimed at establishing a broad-based government in Afghanistan, over 1,000 US marines were deployed outside Kandahar, where Osama bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar are “contained”.

The US marines took over a desert airstrip to set up a forward base for the next stage of the war against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida organisation.

The marines secured the airstrip, a private facility within striking distance of the Taliban’s last remaining stronghold, the southern city of Kandahar, without a shot fired.

Most of the top Taliban leadership is believed to be holed up in and around Kandahar. Efforts by tribal leaders to negotiate a handover of the city have failed to yield results.

Word of the fall of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan came from the Northern Alliance, whose troops were trying today to consolidate their hold on the city. PTI, Reuters, APBack



 

Osama's favourite airfield

Islamabad, November 26
Little could have been more humiliating for the world’s most wanted man than the loss of his favourite air field today.

Marines from the USA, the bitterest enemies of Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, alighted in force and occupied the lonely, sandy Dolangi airstrip in the deserts of southern Afghanistan.

One of the great prizes in bin Laden’s collection of properties in Afghanistan had fallen definitively into the hands of his foes who have vowed to take him — dead or alive. ReutersBack



 

Pervez: Laden still in Afghanistan

Islamabad, November 26
Seeking to set at rest speculations about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf tonight said the suspected terror mastermind is in Afghanistan and there are chances that he may try to cross the border. “The army has sealed the border with the coordination of tribal leaders and nobody would enter Pakistan,” General Musharraf said while taking part in Pakistan Television’s News Night programme. He said country's two nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin and Dr Abdul Mujeeb, had been arrested for their links across the border. PTI
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