Northern Alliance Opens Door to Int\'l Peacekeeping Force

Published November 29th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Afghanistan’s opposition Northern Alliance could accept the presence of a multinational security force if it formed part of a comprehensive peace package, a top delegate of the group said Wednesday, while the Pentagon acknowledged the first death of an American in combat in Afghanistan – a CIA employee, according to reports. 

"At the moment there is no need for [a multinational security force]... although it can in principle be part of a comprehensive peace package," Northern Alliance leader Yunus Qanooni said Wednesday when asked if the group would agree to UN proposals for a continued foreign military presence in the country, reported AFP. 

The new opposition admission came as negotiators met in Koenigswinter, Germany, for a conference on Afghanistan's political future, and the two largest delegations agreed on a transitional council that would set up an interim government, said CNN.  

However, the delegates are still at odds over security measures that would have to come first, sources in the meeting told the news network. 

The Northern Alliance, which seized the capital Kabul in defiance of Washington and Islamabad, has been increasingly assertive about its lead role in a post-Taliban Afghanistan. The US is anxious to placate key ally Pakistan by diluting the power of the alliance, which Islamabad regards as a threat. At the same time, traditional backers of the alliance, such as Russia and Iran, have been pushing for it to dominate the new political landscape. 

Meanwhile, CNN reported that CIA agent Michael Spann was killed while in a fortress for “questioning” of Taliban prisoners, who allegedly erupted into a futile rebellion that was smashed by American warplanes. 

“Someone has got to do the things that no one else will,'" Spann’s father quoted his son as saying, cited by the news network. 

Key Arab figures in the media and politics later accused the US and the Northern Alliance of carrying out a massacre of Arab and other pro-Taliban fighters, citing the fact that the POWs had been herded into a prison fortress after surrendering, and were hardly situated to launch a massive uprising.  

Hundreds of bodies littering the complex along with dead horses, charred vehicles and shell casings were the scene left after the operation, according to AFP. 

Spann was the first American to be killed in the US war on Afghanistan, which was prompted by the ruling Taliban militia’s long-running role as host to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. 

Bin Laden is blamed by Washington for masterminding the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the US in which several thousand civilians were killed. 

 

FIGHTING ON GROUND, BOMBS FROM SKY 

 

Meanwhile, the Taliban denied that US airstrikes had hit a leadership compound a day earlier and said the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was safe and sound, according to CNN. 

The denial came from Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan, who spoke to the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) and confirmed his quotes to the news network.  

As airstrikes kept the militia on the run, negotiations for the Taliban to turn the border town of Spin Boldak over to Pashtun tribal officials were reaching an advanced stage, Pakistani officials said Wednesday, but appear stalled on which tribe would gain control, CNN reported. 

The war-torn country has witnessed a string of revolts by local leaders in the wake of the collapse of the Taliban regime. 

Meanwhile, the hunt for bin Laden continued, but without success, despite a huge US bounty on the head of the suspected terrorist leader. 

The Taliban's Zaeef said Wednesday that bin Laden was not in Taliban-controlled territory and that his whereabouts were unknown, said CNN, adding that on Tuesday, US forces were focusing on two areas: Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south – Albawaba.com 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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