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On The Scene

Joy and brutality in Kabul

CNN's Matthew Chance
CNN's Matthew Chance  

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- CNN's Matthew Chance was with Northern Alliance forces as they entered Kabul. He described the scene to CNN International's Anand Naidoo on Tuesday.

NAIDOO. Hello Matthew, where are you now?

CHANCE. I am joining you from the center of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where I can tell you that it does seem that the Taliban have completely abandoned this city to the forces of the Northern Alliance.

There had been commitment from the Northern Alliance political leadership that their forces would not enter the Afghan capital before any kind of political agreement bringing in all the ethnic groups for a future power-sharing administration had been reached.

I can confirm to you that there are large numbers of Northern Alliance troops now patrolling through the streets of the Afghan capital, they are arriving in their hundreds in trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

CNN's Matthew Chance traveled with Northern Alliance troops into the Afghan capital (November 13)

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The crowds are coming out in their thousands to greet them in some parts of the city at least, cheering them as they move along the streets, chanting anti-Taliban slogans like 'Death to Mullah Omar,' and 'Death to the Pakistani president.' There is a lot of anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan sentiment here.

A lot of the locals we have talked to have already shaved their beards -- of course men under the Taliban regime here in Kabul and elsewhere were made to grow them long.

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Perhaps on a more sinister level, a lot of pockets of this city are strewn with the bodies of Taliban fighters, according to local officials, an indication that this city didn't fall without any fight at all, certainly there have been pockets of resistance from Taliban fighters -- many of them, according to locals here -- Pakistani fighters and Arabs who have been captured and killed by the Northern Alliance forces.

We just visited the park in the center of Kabul where we found seven or eight bodies simply strewn around the park, in the gutters, hanging from the trees.

Gruesome indicators of the fight it took to capture Kabul.

NAIDOO. We are getting a report of troops in Kabul saying they have no intention of ruling Afghanistan from Kabul but remain committed to a peace process under the ex-king.

CHANCE. That has certainly been the position of the Northern Alliance political leadership all along.

They insisted just two days ago, when I last spoke to the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance administration Dr Abdullah Abdullah, they would remain at the gates of Kabul until the political agreement was on the table -- for a signed future power-sharing government.

On the ground, however, there is clearly some kind of conflict among the NA between the political leadership who are perhaps more sensitive to the diplomatic realities and the will of the international community, and those on the military wing of the NA who are simply saying let's press ahead, achieve our military objectives, and let's get the Taliban while they are on the run.

NAIDOO. What is next for the Northern Alliance forces?

CHANCE. Difficult to say. Taliban militias have reportedly been moving since the early hours of the morning, their forces and their armored vehicles and tanks heading to the south-west of the Afghan capital towards their stronghold of Kandahar.

There are also reports that the NA forces have captured the western city of Herat. So it does appear that Taliban rule in the entire north of Afghanistan has collapsed. What next? Well, perhaps an advance on the south, on those southern strongholds, perhaps from Herat, which is quite close to Kandahar, perhaps from here.

NAIDOO. Have you seen any evidence of allied forces accompanying NA forces, at least up to the outskirts of Kabul?

CHANCE. No evidence today, but yesterday, during the initial offensive towards the Afghan capital we were in very forward locations and managed to get pictures of what appeared to be Western military advisers apparently co-ordinating very intensive U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on those Taliban frontlines.

On the road towards Kabul this morning as we drove along you could see the evidence that those air strikes really did hit Taliban front lines extremely hard -- a lot of devastated buildings, the twisted metal of tanks and lorries that had been struck.

Perhaps though, they were the remnants of past conflicts -- remember Afghanistan has been at war for more than two decades so it's difficult to tell whether these were new hits. But what was apparent were the big craters in the ground that can only have been formed by those big heavy bombs dropped by the B-52 bombers.

And the scorched earth, with trees burnt to their stumps and blackened by what must have been a firestorm from the skies.

NAIDOO. Is the Northern Alliance going to carry out the intentions of the allied forces and defeat al Qaeda forces and find Osama bin Laden?

CHANCE. Let's not forget the NA have their own military objectives. They have been fighting the Taliban for several years.

They have their own axe to grind with Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. They blame him and the fighters within his network for the assassination of their military commander a few months ago. They are extremely bitter about that.


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