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Nic Robertson: Kandahar and Spin Boldak fall



(CNN) -- The Taliban lost their last major stronghold Friday as Kandahar fell and opposition forces began entering the city, interim Afghan government leader Hamid Karzai said. Later, the strategic town of Spin Boldak, on the border with Pakistan, fell to anti-Taliban tribal leaders.

CNN's Nic Robertson filed this report from Spin Boldak.

ROBERTSON: We've just crossed the border into Afghan territory that was until a few hours ago controlled by the Taliban. It is now controlled by a group of tribesmen. They have put up in this border town green, red and black flags. These are their flags showing loyalty to King Zahir Shah.

The situation in this town, Spin Boldak, is somewhat chaotic, but there is a sense of order here nevertheless. This building we're standing on now was, until just a few hours ago, the Taliban passport office.

A few hours drive farther from where we are standing is Kandahar city. In that city, long-time mujahedeen commander Naqibullah took control. It was a negotiated surrender by the Taliban. He has been joined in that city by other tribal forces, coming in from the north and also coming in from the eastern edge of the city.

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Inside Kandahar earlier today, our sources told us the situation was extremely chaotic. They talked about widespread looting. However, through the day, the situation has stabilized, a sense of normality is returning, and there is celebratory gunfire.

Also, cars are driving through the city, waving the flags showing loyalty to King Zahir Shah.

Here in Spin Boldak, negotiations have been going on in the early hours of the morning between the Taliban and different tribal groups. Spin Boldak has now been divided between three different tribal groups. They now control this town that was until a few hours ago in Taliban control.

CNN: A question about (Taliban leader) Mullah Omar: As you know, yesterday it was widely reported that he had asked for amnesty. The U.S. government is adamantly opposed to that. There are reports this morning that he is missing. Is there anything that you can add this morning that would either shoot those reports down or clarify that?

ROBERTSON: All recent indications are that Mullah Omar has gone into hiding, has been taken to a secret location. It is also widely believed that he has remained in the Kandahar region. The reason people believe that -- key officials, when they've gone to meet him, have gone in the direction of Kandahar and they've come back with responses from him very quickly.

However, Mr. Hamid Karzai, who is now the head of Afghanistan's interim government, said last night that he did not know where Mullar Omar was, and he has said again today that his location is still unknown. But he has said that Mullah Omar should be found and tried. He says Omar has had his opportunity to denounce terrorism and he has failed to meet that deadline. He says he should now be charged, along with other Taliban leaders, for allowing terrorists to operate inside the country, and also for bringing so much destruction and mayhem to the country during his period of rule.



 
 
 
 


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