Al-Qaeda/Taleban rift as non-Afghan Al Qaeda forces massacre defecting Pashtun Taleban, Kunduz surrenders, Omar gives up Kandahar, Bin laden hotly pursued by special forces and Northern Alliance fall out with British.
Eyewitness accounts tell of a massacre by Al-Qaeda militia of 150 Afghan Pashtun Taleban who were trying to cross over to opposition Northern Alliance lines 24 hours before the city was surrendered to the UNO at dusk on November 18th. 50-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim, who escaped from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, the last enclave of Taleban resistance in that part of the country, told reporters:
“A foreign commander gave the order for 150 Afghan Taleban to be killed because they wanted to surrender. They showed them no mercy”. These are the first signs of a clear rift developing between local Afghanistan Taleban and the Al-Qaeda fighters, drawn from the rest of the Moslem world. Many of these are Pakistanis, Bosnians and Chechens. The regime split into different factions, its strongholds captured, the Taleban regime is over.
Reports that Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taleban, is negotiating his surrender in Kandahar had been denied by Taleban sources, who claimed that they would fight to the last man in this second city of Afghanistan, their main stronghold and spiritual base. However, it is now confirmed by independent sources that Kandahar has been abandoned and the Taleban have taken to the mountains.
Northern Alliance leaders had told the British that their forces were not needed to help them in the fight to take Kandahar. The Northern Alliance refuse to allow the British to participate in this battle, the first signs of trouble to come with this group, mainly composed by the ethnic minorities Hazara, Tajiks and Uzbeks.
British Ministry of defence spokespersons stated on November 17th that special forces are only hours behind Osama Bin Laden, as he flees from hideout to hideout. It is thought that he is in a complex of mountains north of Kandahar. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, ex-Taleban ambassador to Pakistan and currently in Kandahar, declared to reporters late on November 17th “Osama is in Afghanistan, but we do not know where he is”. He added that he was not in any of the areas controlled by the Taleban. He declared that Mullah Omar was in these areas and was directing the policy of the Taleban militia.
These declarations deny previous reports that Osama Bin laden sneaked over the border into Pakistan. It is, however, believed that Bin Laden could make an attempt to fly out of Afghanistan by helicopter and later link up with a series of private aircraft to reach a well-prepared safe haven abroad. The Pakistani authorities have stepped up security measures along the border to prevent Bin Laden from escaping Afghanistan into Pakistan.
With the Taleban now out of the population centres and into the mountains, with the opposition more divided than ever, with the UNO crawling at a snail’s pace to get a broad-based coalition together in Kabul, there is a strong possibility that this will be a long, drawn-out struggle.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
A nuclear-powered submarine of the British Navy surfaced in the ice of the Arctic for the first time in many years