Archive for Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Northern alliance claims uprising over

November 28, 2001


— Dozens of shattered bodies lay in the dusty courtyard of a mud-walled Afghan fortress prison Tuesday after a three-day uprising by Taliban prisoners.

The northern alliance claimed to have put down the revolt with the help of American airstrikes and special forces, but U.S. military officials said 30 to 40 men still were holding out in the sprawling Qalai Janghi complex.

"It is not yet fully under control," Gen. Tommy Franks, who heads the war effort in Afghanistan, told reporters in Florida.

Northern alliance troops on Tuesday turned back journalists trying to enter the complex outside the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, making it impossible to confirm whether fighting had ended.

But representatives of the international Red Cross said late Tuesday that they were working to arrange for burials Wednesday an indication the battle had abated.

"The situation is completely under control. All of them were killed," said Alim Razim, political adviser to Gen. Rashid Dostum, the northern alliance commander responsible for Qalai Janghi.

By Tuesday night, Razim said his troops had seized the last mortar the prisoners had been using.

The postscript from three days of fighting was grisly; the remains of soldiers from both sides lay around the prison, where non-Afghans who fought alongside the Taliban had been locked up since Sunday.

One television report showed some 60 bodies, believed to be Taliban, scattered across a courtyard. In another spot, a body believed to be that of a Pakistani Talib lay in a ditch, and villagers said he had been strangled with a rope. One man, laughing, picked up the body by its robe and kicked it in the head. Another villager posed over the dead man, holding a knife.

The fighting began Sunday when hundreds of Pakistanis, Chechens, Arabs and other non-Afghans fighting alongside the Taliban were brought to the fortress as part of the weekend surrender of Kunduz, the Islamic militia's last stronghold in the north. Once inside, the men stormed the armory and rose up against their alliance captors.

Five U.S. soldiers were seriously wounded in the battle Monday when a U.S. bomb went astray, exploding near the Americans. They arrived Tuesday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near Frankfurt, Germany, spokeswoman Marie Shaw said. She declined to give details of their condition.

U.S. officials were also trying to learn what happened to a CIA operative who was feared killed in the uprising. It wasn't clear whether he had been captured, killed or injured, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday in Washington.

In southern Afghanistan, more Marines took up positions Tuesday, and Rumsfeld said America was "tightening the noose" around Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies. Taliban control in their southern stronghold appeared to be crumbling.

Rumsfeld also said the Pentagon ordered airstrikes Tuesday against a compound southeast of Kandahar after learning that it was being used by senior leaders of the Taliban, al-Qaida and Wafa, a Saudi humanitarian group that was among several groups named by the United States as aiding bin Laden and his network.

The Taliban have vowed to defend Kandahar rather than abandon it as they did Kabul, the capital, and other cities. However, the South Asian Dispatch Agency, a private Pakistani news service with a correspondent in Kandahar, quoted unidentified Taliban fighters in the city as saying they had been ordered to prepare to leave on short notice.

Taliban authority appeared under strain elsewhere in the south.

In the town of Spinboldak, 9 miles from the Pakistani border, witnesses said Afghan refugees in a Taliban-administered camp raided two warehouses and looted blankets and food that had been delivered from Pakistan.

In Spinboldak itself, few Taliban soldiers patrolled the streets and their main checkpoint was vacant, according to a local farmer, Ghoar Noorzai. Taliban guards could not be seen on the Afghan side of the border at Chaman.

"They roam around, but they don't bother people," Noorzai said of the Taliban.

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