US Adviser Reportedly Killed in Afghan Prison Revolt
A US adviser was reportedly killed Sunday in a shootout in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif during a prisoners' revolt by hundreds of surrendering foreign Taliban forces, witnesses told AFP.
There was no independent confirmation of the death, which could be the first combat casualty suffered by the United States in their seven-week-old military offensive, said the agency.
US defense officials in Washington denied any serviceman had been killed but did not directly address whether another category of US personnel might have been involved.
Northern alliance forces and US airstrikes had put down the riot by pro-Taliban captives from the northern city of Kunduz, US and alliance spokesman said. Alliance spokesmen said hundreds of foreign fighters were killed, according to the Associated Press.
Some 400 to 600 foreign militants had staged a violent uprising in a prison in Mazar-i-Sharif after surrendering to Northern Alliance forces, leaving scores dead, AFP had said, quoting witnesses and North Alliance sources.
A witness, who was near the prison when the uprising occurred, told AFP the mainly Arab, Pakistani and Chechen prisoners disarmed their guards after killing a senior alliance commander with a hand grenade.
He said a vicious gunbattle ensued and "a lot of people, perhaps a hundred" were killed.
The prisoners had surrendered earlier from the besieged city of Kunduz, where hardcore Taliban forces had withstood almost two weeks of US bombing and alliance shelling before apparently giving in over the weekend.
The compound is under the control of northern alliance commander Rashid Dostam.
“They were all killed, and very few were arrested,'' said Zaher Wahadat, another alliance spokesman told the AP.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that U.S. airstrikes had helped Dostam's forces regain control of the prison. Some US special forces were in the compound when the fighting broke out, and Lt. Col. Dan Stoneking said “it appears all US personnel are accounted for.''
US special forces have been in the area for several weeks, working closely with General Dostam, the main alliance commander in Mazar-i-Sharif – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)