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Archive for Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Taliban border guards withdraw from posts

November 13, 2001

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— Alarmed by the fall of Kabul, nervous Taliban soldiers withdrew Tuesday from some border posts along the border with Pakistan.

Also, some Afghan refugees in Pakistan decided to return home after hearing that the northern alliance had moved into the Afghan capital following the retreat of the Taliban.

"We hope that soon there will be peace and stability," said 37-year-old Gul Agha. He said he felt the swift withdrawal of the Taliban from huge swathes of Afghanistan made it safe for him to return to his home in the north of Afghanistan.

Agha is a Tajik, the same ethnic group as the fighters of the opposition northern alliance who seized Kabul.

Some Afghans from the majority Pashtun group, to which most Taliban fighters belong, tried to cross from Afghanistan into Pakistan at the Torkham border post, but were prevented from doing so by Pakistani guards.

They included some injured people who said they had been hurt by U.S. bombing.

Pakistan sealed the border after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which prompted U.S. President George W. Bush to launch a bombing campaign against the Taliban. The Islamic militia had refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, chief suspect in the attacks.

Just inside Afghanistan, a Taliban commander vowed to keep fighting despite the fall of Kabul and the loss of northern Afghanistan.

"We will not bow down. We will fight until the last man," said Mullah Hanifi. He acknowledged, however, that the Taliban were in retreat.

Some Taliban troops were nervously reading newspapers and listened to radios to learn the latest about events in Kabul.

A Pakistani who returned home from Afghanistan, Zarbullah, said the Taliban were moving out of the eastern city of Jalalabad. He said he had been jailed there because of a money dispute, and Taliban fighters had released him and a dozen other Pakistani prisoners on their way out of town.

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