Taliban-oppn battle intensifies in Afghanistan

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Taliban-oppn battle intensifies in Afghanistan AP Kabul, September 23

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Heavy fighting was reported on Sunday between Taliban and opposition forces in northern Afghanistan as the United States stepped up preparations for an attack to capture or kill suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and destroy his training camps. An alliance of opposition groups claimed to have captured a key district of Balkh province and to have killed at least 80 Taliban militia fighters. Gen Abdul Rasheed Dostum, chief of the Jumbish-e-Milli opposition group, said in a telephone interview that at least 200 Taliban fighters were captured and that his side had two men injured.

A Taliban official in Kabul confirmed the fighting but insisted the opposition alliance had made no gains in the region during clashes about 300 km northwest of the Afghan capital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was not possible to independently confirm the claims of either side since all of Afghanistan's neighbours have closed their borders at the request of the United States, and nearly all foreign officials, including UN and international aid workers, have left the country.

Fears of a military confrontation with the United States have risen since the Bush administration accused bin Laden of planning the September 11 suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in which thousands were believed to have died.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 23, 2001

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