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Christiane Amanpour: Fate of journalists uncertain

CNN's Christiane Amanpour
CNN's Christiane Amanpour  

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A driver and a translator who were allowed to flee said Monday that two cars of a convoy carrying Western journalists were attacked on the way to the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The fate of as many as five people, all believed to be journalists, was unclear.

The driver and translator said a convoy of eight cars was stopped by a group of armed men near Kace Aztzikhan, about halfway between Kabul and Jalalabad.

CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour is on assignment in Kabul, where she gave the following report:

AMANPOUR: The journalists here in Kabul have desperately been trying to track down any information about any possible harm that may have come to these colleagues. We understand now that a journalist traveling in a convoy toward Kabul from Jalalabad saw the car in front being stopped at some kind of a checkpoint and the journalists inside, about four or five Western journalists, being taken out and led away, at which point, the journalists who witnessed this in the car behind turned around and went to Jalalabad.

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And still we are trying to get confirmation and details and really trying to find out about what's been going on. This is a very insecure and difficult place right now for journalists to cover as the military situation progresses so fast and there are so many changing allegiances and different tribes and factions taking over in various parts of the country.

The fighting does continue clearly up in the north in the Konduz area, where the United States has continued bombing the front lines of the Taliban who are also backed by Pakistanis, Chechens and Arab mercenaries. We understand there has been heavy bombing up there, and also that has prompted people to flee from the city of that area.

Refugees coming out of Konduz are saying that they are concerned that some of this area bombardment may be hampering their flight out and indeed injuring people, but we simply have no independent confirmation of that.

There is a major battle going on out there, and again Monday the Northern Alliance deputy foreign minister said that he is sending a delegation into Konduz to try to negotiate a surrender from the Taliban. Again we don't have any details on whether that's happened or whether indeed it's been successful.

Now in the south of this country in Kandahar another focus, because that's the seat of power, of what used to be power of the Taliban and Mullah Mohammad Omar, there CNN sources are saying that a tribal leader, who used to be with Mullah Omar as a close associate, has now turned against him and is fighting against the Taliban control of Kandahar. Beyond that, we don't have any more credible details.

In Kabul, U.N. and other international officials are desperately trying to get some sort of a political track on the road, and they've been meeting with all sorts of officials from the Northern Alliance and other factions. They are desperate to get this meeting together to impose some kind of political calm and order on the situation. We understand, after meeting with the U.S. representative, the Northern Alliance has said now that they will agree to a meeting in a neutral site outside of Afghanistan to try to move the political process ahead. But it's slow going, and the political track is lagging way behind the military reality on the ground.

CNN: Christiane, any better sense of when that meeting may take place that includes members of the Northern Alliance?

AMANPOUR: Well, it will include members of the Northern Alliance for sure, and obviously what they want to do is get as many leaders of the other factions and ethnic groups together as well because the U.N. envisions a two-year interim transitional government before being able to set up proper leadership here. And so they want a broad-based government to take place. What they don't want is for any one faction to gain control and descend this country into the same sort of anarchy and fighting and real chaos that it has experienced over the last decade at least.


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