About 20,000 Taliban fighters, holding a perimeter defence around the city of Kunduz in the north-east of Afghanistan, have offered a fierce battle despite US airstrikes and Northern Alliance artillery fire. The backbone of the group are about 10,000 foreign hirelings-Pakistanis, Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens under the command of Uzbek field commander Juma Namangani. There are also members of bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization. The Northern Alliance representatives held talks with the Taliban and granted them two days for arms surrender on Friday. The Alliance's commander Mohammad Daud is reported to say that his troops will attack in two days and those who failed to lay down arms will be eliminated.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign