Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Taliban regime collapses
Omar men run away with weapons

A US marine stands behind his weapons
A US marine stands behind his weapons at Camp Rhino in southern Afghanistan during a period of heightened alert on Friday. — Reuters photo

Islamabad, December 7
The most repressive Islamic regime in Afghanistan which bred international terrorism finally collapsed today with Taliban surrendering its only remaining bastion Kandahar but the whereabouts of its leader Mullah Mohammad Omar were not known.

The capitulation of Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist invoking strict Islamic tenets, came exactly two months after the US-launched military operation to flush out terrorists and punish their harbourers in the country.

Seven Taliban and Al-Qaida fighters were killed by US marines near Kandahar in their first offensive ground operation in the eastern mountain region of Tora Bora where Osama bin Laden’s associates are believed to be holed up.

As opposition forces entered the strategic city after Taliban gave it up, there were reports of looting and chaos.

“The Taliban rule is finished. As of today they are no longer a part of Afghanistan,” Karzai said in a satellite telephone interview with the Associated Press.

He said he aimed to arrest Omar, who is wanted by the USA for aiding and abetting Bin Laden.

Karzai confirmed that chaos had broken out in several areas within Kandahar as a result of Taliban soldiers and leaders fleeing.

He said fleeing Taliban had reneged on a deal to hand in weapons to another opposition tribal leader. “The Taliban ran away with their weapons,” Karzai said.

He said there was no fighting between rival forces. However, frightened residents reported some looting had taken place and said gunfire could be heard.

“Basically they have just run away. The leaders and the soldiers. They have all run away from the city,” said Karzai from a desert base outside Kandahar.

“They came in trucks up the road toward us. All of last night they were fleeing the city. Just running away. I thought they were coming here to attack us. But they weren’t. They were running away.”

Karzai said Omar’s whereabouts were unknown.

“I have no idea where Mullah Omar is. But, of course, I want to arrest him. I have given him every chance to denounce terrorism and now the time has run out. He is an absconder, a fugitive from justice,” said Karzai.

Karzai said he had set up a tribal commission that would go to Kandahar to take control of the city within a day or so.

He said the Arabs of Al-Qaida, as well as Chechens and Pakistanis who had been fighting with the Taliban, were likely to escape north to Zabul province and into neighbouring Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition will pursue military action in Afghanistan despite the fall of Kandahar, coalition spokesman Kenton Keith said here at a news briefing. AgenciesBack


Qanooni talks tough against Pak
Tribune News Service

Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh (R) meets with Interior Minister-designate of Afghanistan’s interim government Younous Qanooni
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh (R) meets with Interior Minister-designate of Afghanistan’s interim government Younous Qanooni in New Delhi on Friday. — Reuters photo

New Delhi, December 7
Interior Minister-designate of Afghanistan’s interim government Younous Qanooni, who flew in here unexpectedly directly from Bonn last night, today did some hard talk suggesting that his government would be tough vis-a-vis the Taliban and its creator, Pakistan.

Mr Qanooni, who met External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Home Minister L.K. Advani today, virtually breathed fire against the Taliban and Pakistan when he talked to reporters after each meeting.

He said his government would not grant amnesty to Taliban supremo Mullah Omar or any other Taliban leader. After his 30-minute meeting with Mr Advani, Mr Qanooni said the new Afghan Government might consider general amnesty "only for small men" but not for Taliban leaders.

He lashed out at Pakistan for supporting terrorists in Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir and said: "The government of Pakistan should know that its policy of terrorism in Afghanistan has failed as also in other places. This is the time for Pakistan to review its strategy of the past."

After a 45-minute meeting with Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Qanooni told reporters that many of the Pakistani mercenaries were still there in Afghanistan.

As for their part, both Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Advani assured the visiting Afghan leader that New Delhi would give unconditional and wholehearted support in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.Back

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