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Satinder Bindra: Northern Alliance casualties

Satinder Bindra  

DASHTIQALA, Northern Afghanistan (CNN) -- The first Northern Alliance casualties of the war in this sector of Afghanistan have started arriving at the region's primitive hospitals.

CNN's Satinder Bindra is based in northeastern Afghanistan. He filed this report:

BINDRA: Eighteen-year old Najibullah went into battle this morning alongside other Northern Alliance soldiers full of hope, dreaming of victory. He ended the day without his right leg -- it was blown away by a landmine.

In primitive conditions, working under the light of lanterns, Northern Alliance doctors stay busy with amputations. All the soldiers here are barely out of their teens. As doctors try to calm them, more casualties pour in.

A soldier named Sonatullah also stepped on a landmine. He deals with the pain, waiting patiently for medical attention. Then doctors perform another amputation.

For some help comes too late. One Northern Alliance commander succumbs to his injuries.

Taliban shelling in this sector is killing more Northern Alliance troops. One shell lands on a small mud hut. Watching the cloud of dust as the shell lands just 50 meters away from him is a CNN staffer:

"I went to the site. One Northern Alliance soldier was dead and two others injured. They were asking for help to take them to the hospital."

A jeep drove the injured to the same clinic where those injured on the frontlines are being treated. With the latest arrivals, every bed in this tent clinic is taken.

It has not just been a busy day for the doctors. Northern Alliance gunners have kept up a relentless barrage of fire against frontline Taliban positions. U.S. planes add to the pressure as they bomb the same positions from the air.

Northern Alliance commanders describe this as an ``offensive.'' Some even claim dozens of Northern Alliance tanks are on the move. It's a claim that cannot be independently verified, but what is evident is this has been the heaviest fighting in this sector in weeks.

Until last week, Northern Alliance commanders complained they had no ammunition. Now guns have been rushed to the front. As they're prepared for action, we noticed tons of new ammunition at the front line. Also being loaded and prepared for fire -- deadly Katyusha rockets.

Northern Alliance commanders claim their forces are advancing "bunker-by-bunker" in this sector. And even at night, gunners here continue to pound away at Taliban positions. With the Taliban firing back and this front heavily mined, commanders here concede the next few days will test their troops.


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