Taliban fighter: Armed Taliban Still in Kandahar

Published December 8th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Taliban are still roaming the streets of Kandahar despite a deal to surrender the Islamic militia's long-time spiritual heartland, a Taliban fighter said Saturday. 

"There are still Arab Taliban moving around the city. They are armed," said Hafiz Abdul Rub, who arrived in this border town after travelling from Kandahar Saturday. 

"No one is in control of the city. Mullah Naqib (Mullah Naqibullah) should be in control but no one is," Rub added. 

The Taliban had agreed to surrender control of Kandahar and hand in their weapons under a deal brokered by Afghanistan's UN-backed leader-in-waiting, Hamid Karzai. 

Former mujahedin commander Naqibullah wants to take control under the terms of the agreement but the deal has angered former Kandahar governor Gul Agha, whose forces seized the city's airport after news of the deal broke Thursday night.  

Agha then moved into his former official residence Friday, according to tribal elder Abdul Khaliq, and sporadic clashes have broken out in the city between the rival Pashtun clans. 

Agha has now based his troops 16 kilometres (10 miles) to the west of the city, Rub said. 

The Taliban fighter said he had left Kandahar "because I don't want to be arrested" but planned to return in a few days. 

With the situation in Kandahar remaining unclear, Pakistani authorities maintained a ring of steel around the border crossing to the Afghanistan town of Spin Boldak. 

A senior border official told AFP that it was too dangerous to allow foreigners to enter Afghanistan as it was unclear who was in charge of Spin Boldak. 

Residents have reported that different tribal groups have taken control of the border checkpoint, customs office and security within the town. 

The situation was complicated by the departure of hundreds of Taliban fighters from the town early Friday, many of whom are thought to have taken their weapons and vanished. 

The border official said anti-Western sentiment was running high across the border after two months of US-led bombing of the Taliban bastion. 

"Don't say you are English or American if you go across the border -- say you are Irish," he said. 

The factionalism that is emerging in Kandahar revived memories of the chaos which pervaded the province before the Taliban seized control. Agha and Naqibullah, who was then the city's military strongman, were both forced from power when the militia took control in November 1994. 

The Taliban went on to conquer most of Afghanistan and controlled more than 90 percent of the country until less than a month ago – Chaman (AFP)

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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