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Konduz falls to Northern Alliance

Afghans of ethnic Tajik origin pray over the body of a Taliban fighter.  

KONDUZ, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Northern Alliance commanders said Monday their troops were in full control of Konduz, which had been the Taliban's last stronghold in northern Afghanistan.

Gen. Daoud Khan, the anti-Taliban commander at Konduz, said Taliban forces have retreated to a town to the west. He said Konduz has been placed under the control of a security commission charged with demilitarizing the city and restoring law and order.

Northern Alliance forces had begun moving into Konduz on Sunday, meeting some resistance even as thousands of Taliban fighters surrendered. By Monday, however, the Northern Alliance had entered the heart of the city and was encountering no Taliban fighters.

Opposition troops were conducting house-to-house searches in Konduz late Monday, trying to ensure that no pockets of Taliban resistance remained.

The Taliban defeat at Konduz ended a two-week standoff with Northern Alliance troops and wipes out the last major pocket of Taliban resistance in northern Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the Islamic militia now governs only a small portion of the country around its political and spiritual base at Kandahar.

CNN's Satinder Bindra reports from Konduz, the former Taliban stronghold in nothern Afghanistan (November 26)

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"Around Kunduz, our forces showed a lot of restraint," Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah told CNN. "In the past few days, we gave time for negotiations. As a result of those negotiations ... we were able to avoid civilian casualties. Civilian casualties were minimum or none in Konduz."

Though they outnumbered the Taliban and had U.S. air power on their side, Northern Alliance commanders said they lacked the ammunition and supplies for a frontal assault on Konduz. Instead, they devoted more than a week to talks aimed at convincing Taliban commanders to give up or switch sides.

Large numbers of Taliban troops began surrendering last week, but an unknown number of loyalists -- many of them volunteers from Pakistan, Chechnya and Arab countries -- continued to hold out.

Abdullah said many Afghan Taliban who wished to surrender were killed by their non-Afghan allies. Others surrendered to Northern Alliance forces at Mazar-e Sharif, only to stage an uprising at a prison compound that had left several hundred killed or wounded by Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, Gen. Atiqullah Baryalai, the Northern Alliance commander in the Konduz area, said his troops had entered the city and encountered only light resistance and small-arms fire. In addition, Baryalai said, Northern Alliance troops gained complete control of the outlying town of Kanabad on Sunday.

-- CNN Correspondent Satinder Bindra and Producer Ryan Chilcote contributed to this report.


• Taliban in north surrender in droves
November 24, 2001

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