Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taliban:We're Ready to Surrender Kunduz

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taliban:We're Ready to Surrender Kunduz

Article excerpt


THE TALIBAN claim they are ready to surrender Kunduz, their last stronghold in northern Afghanistan, but have vowed to fight on in their southern heartland.

Kunduz Taliban commander Mullah Faizal told reporters after talks with Northern Alliance warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum that the thousands of Afghan Taliban and foreign al Qaeda fighters in Kunduz were ready to lay down their arms. "There will be peace," he said.

But Dostum said that essential details of the surrender remained to be worked out. Most importantly was

the fate of thousands of foreign fighters, who formed the hard core in Kunduz and whom the Alliance have said it would execute.

The Alliance say Afghan Taliban troops in the city have been ready to surrender for days, but their Pakistani, Arab and Chechen comrades, are fighting to the death.

Faizal insisted that all Taliban forces in the city, both Afghan and foreign,

were under his control and would surrender.

But Taliban defectors who escaped into Alliance territory say that the foreign troops are refusing to take orders from the Taliban leadership and have even shot Afghans for talking of giving themselves up.

Last week, the al Qaeda terrorists were reported to have killed more than 100 Afghan fighters who were attempting to surrender.

In another incident, they shelled Alliance troops who had approached the frontline to meet Afghans trying to defect.

The American bombing has taken a heavy toll on ordinary civilians in the Kunduz enclave, who have been fleeing as fast as they can.

"We left because of the bombing," one refugee, Abdullah, told Reuters.

"On the street next to ours, 14 members of the same family were killed when a bomb fell on their house. Only the father and a little daughter survived, so we decided to leave."

If Kunduz does surrender, it will technically leave the Taliban in control of only Kandahar in the south, the birthplace of its leader Mullah Omar. …

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