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U.S., British special forces join prison fight

'Friendly fire' injures five U.S. soldiers

MAZAR-E SHARIF, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Northern Alliance troops, along with U.S. and British special forces, fought Tuesday to snuff out a small pocket of resistance following a weekend uprising of Taliban prisoners.

"It is not yet fully under control, and I'm not sure what that amounts to in terms of numbers," Gen. Tommy Franks, chief of the U.S. Central Command, said at a Florida news conference. "There were 30 to 40 hardcore people still on the inside, and it is a matter of rooting them out."

Alliance commanders said they saw U.S. and British special forces entering the highly fortified compound near Mazar-e Sharif for what appeared to be a final storming of the fortress at around 9:30 a.m. (12 a.m. EST) Tuesday.

Their arrival was followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire and some occasional mortar fire.

The Taliban forces who continued to fight have access to mortars and machine guns and are putting up stiff resistance from inside one building, alliance soldiers said Monday.

CNN's Alessio Vinci reports Northern Alliance soldiers say most of the Taliban fighters are holed up inside one building but have access to many weapons (November 26)

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Alliance commanders said the Taliban inside the compound were running out of ammunition, but the commanders made a similar claim a day earlier.

A U.S. airstrike hit an ammunition dump inside the compound overnight during a series of air attacks designed to quell the bloody uprising. Meanwhile, a Northern Alliance tank moved near the main gate of the fortress, which appeared to be under the control of alliance forces.

The revolt began Sunday by about 300 non-Afghan Taliban fighters inside the compound. The Taliban forces had said they were surrendering, but smuggled weapons into the camp and launched a rebellion.

Northern Alliance soldiers coming out of the compound Monday said they have lost between 100 and 150 fighters. As many as 400 Taliban fighters were killed, the soldiers said, the majority on Sunday after U.S. jets struck the area with precision-guided missiles.

Northern Alliance commanders have reported that two Americans had been killed. Pentagon spokesman Victoria Clarke said there were no known losses among U.S. troops, but she said one U.S. government employee is missing and American authorities are trying to ascertain his whereabouts.

Five U.S. soldiers were injured, one seriously, by a stray American bomb on Tuesday while helping put down the revolt, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The injured have been airlifted to Uzbekistan for treatment and will eventually be sent to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

"A very small number" of British troops have also sustained injuries in Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said Monday, but he would not provide any other details.

The Taliban who revolted were mainly fighters from Pakistan linked to the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. They were brought to the compound as part of a deal to surrender the city of Konduz, about five hours away.

-- CNN Correspondent Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.


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