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On The Scene

Alessio Vinci: Surrender civilized

CNN Correspondent Alessio Vinci  

(CNN) -- The Northern Alliance is busy sorting out the details of a massive Taliban surrender just outside the major northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif. CNN Correspondent Alessio Vinci is on the scene monitoring developments.

VINCI: As many as 400 Taliban fighters have surrendered to the Northern Alliance in the last hour and a half, about 30 miles outside of Mazar-e Sharif, and we have followed the convoy back into town. Those prisoners of war are being trucked into town, and then being brought here at the fortress-like residence of Gen. Abdullah Rashid Dostum, who is the main Northern Alliance commander here in this region.

The soldiers who have surrendered are now being stripped of all their personal belongings. They've been searched for any kind of additional weapons, any kind of personal belongings that may be used as a weapon. We have even seen them carrying some hand grenades that have been taken away from them.

After they've been searched and cleaned, the prisoners of war have been brought into a second location where they've been interviewed by Northern Alliance commanders. What we understand is happening right now is that the Northern Alliance soldiers are trying to establish who of those soldiers are the so-called foreign fighters -- the Chechens, the Pakistanis, and the Arabs who have fought on behalf of the Taliban -- and who are the actual Afghan Taliban.

Northern Alliance commanders here are telling us that the Afghan Talibans will be allowed to go back to their homes. Most of them, we understand, are coming from Kandahar in the southern province of Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold. However, as far as the so-called foreign fighters, we understand there will be no amnesty.

Gen. Rashid Dostum, speaking to us earlier today, told us that he wanted to hand over the so-called foreign fighters to the United Nations. However, right now here in Mazar-e Sharif, there is no U.N. representative, so it is possible, for now, they will remain under the custody of the Northern Alliance.

Prisoners have been treated pretty well, I would say. We're seeing many of those prisoners actually still praying, and none of the soldiers are preventing them from doing that. They've been searched; the search is being conducted in an extremely well-planned way. There is none of the usual confusion that has characterized most of these days.

We've been told that a surrender was going to happen outside of town, and we've been standing most of the day driving back and forth in the desert and trying to establish at which point the surrender was going to take place. But as far as I can tell from now, both the body search and interrogation have been conducted in a very civilized manner.


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