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Satinder Bindra: Fighting, despite surrender deal

KONDUZ, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Taliban in the northern Afghanistan city of Konduz have agreed to surrender by Sunday, Northern Alliance commander Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum said Thursday.

Despite the agreement, CNN's Satinder Bindra reports fierce fighting on the front lines near Konduz. He filed this report.

BINDRA: In the space of about a half hour, I counted 10 rockets launched by Northern Alliance forces. In that half hour, I also saw more than 10 large artillery rounds being fired.

Northern Alliance commanders tell me that these rounds were fired at a frontline Taliban position on the way to Konduz, where thousands of hard-line Taliban fighters have been trapped for several days now.

As all this was going on, I also saw about 1,000 Northern Alliance soldiers being rushed up to the front. We also witnessed some 12 tanks driving at breakneck speeds toward the front. All this is happening on a day when both sides said they had reached an agreement and were trying to work out how Taliban forces would surrender.

But many people are treating reports of this surrender with skepticism because, as you'll recall, about 11 days, ago Northern Alliance forces were invited by Taliban fighters into Konduz. When these forces started to drive into Konduz, they faced a heavy barrage of fire.

Also what we are noticing here -- there's a great deal of confusion about what to do with the hard-core Taliban fighters. Many here are not in favor of giving these hard-core fighters safe passage. They say these hard-core Taliban fighters must face justice in Afghanistan. I must add that even the United States says that these hard-core Taliban fighters must either be captured or killed.

CNN: We have definite news that a surrender has been agreed to, and now you're reporting fierce fighting, troops being rushed to the front line.

BINDRA: The situation here ... is very fluid. By launching such attacks, the Northern Alliance is perhaps indicating to the Taliban forces that it is very serious. ... Perhaps this is one way of adding to the pressure on the Taliban forces. Of course, they've been stuck there, they're surrounded on all four sides, they're running short on supplies and food.

CNN: What guarantees that surrender Taliban troops will not re-engage and attack the Northern Alliance again once they've been given free passage?

BINDRA: That is one of the biggest reasons why it has not been easy to arrange some kind of surrender or safe passage deal. The Northern Alliance is very skeptical that once the fighters are given room to leave, perhaps at some stage they're going to come back. These are very hard-core fighters; they're sworn to their cause. They could come back in a matter of days or weeks to hurt and harm the Northern Alliance. That is why this process is so convoluted and why it is likely to take some time.


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