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Ben Wedeman: Deadly Taliban resistance

KONDUZ, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Despite an agreement to surrender, the Taliban continues to fight with the Northern Alliance outside Konduz in northern Afghanistan. Northern Alliance forces claimed to have captured the village of Saka, about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from Konduz, but the Taliban recaptured the village in a massive counter-offensive.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in the area, and he filed this report.

WEDEMAN: It seems as if a new front has opened up just southeast of Kabul. We were down there today, about 20 miles southwest of the capital. There in the hills, according to Northern Alliance commanders, are anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 Taliban fighters. This commander told me that among those, there are about 700 to 800 non-Afghan fighters probably Arabs, Chechens and Pakistanis.

Now this pocket of resistance comes as a bit of a surprise, in fact, because the Northern Alliance thought they worked out some sort of agreement with the Taliban in the area, whereby they would give up their weapons and surrender. But when they went to pick up those weapons, it appears that the Taliban were in no mood to negotiate.

They fought back, and several Northern Alliance troops have been wounded and killed over the last few days. And this incident is a good indication of the kind of difficulties the Northern Alliance is going to run into as it tries to mop up after its fairly rapid advances across the country.

CNN: When you talk about the skirmishes and the disagreements that we're hearing about, are these chiefly Afghan members of the Taliban, or Arabs from other countries, or is there any way to discern?

WEDEMAN: According to the Northern Alliance commanders -- and one must always use a pinch of salt when one talks with these people -- they say the bulk of the force is Afghan Taliban, but the real hard-core Taliban fighters who really have nothing to lose but their lives, so to speak, are the Arabs, the Chechens, and the Pakistanis.

But so far, I've been here two-and-a-half to three weeks and I haven't seen one of them.


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