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Robertson: Kandahar forces discuss power-sharing

Robertson
Robertson reports from Kandahar via videophone  


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson on Saturday arrived in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the only Western journalist known to be in the former Taliban stronghold. Robertson reported to CNN Saturday the struggle for control of the city by anti-Taliban forces.

ROBERTSON: We've just arrived here, and on the route here, there was a lot of destruction on the roadside close to the airport in particular. At the airport a group of fighters under the command of former governor of Kandahar have been fighting against Taliban forces for about a week. Right now, they tell us that there are 200 Arab forces who are surrounded at the airport. As we pass the airport, we could hear gunfire. There's a lot of destruction, a lot of destroyed vehicles, a lot of dead bodies on the roadside. Also, we saw as we got closer and closer to Kandahar, more and more armed men on the roadside.

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CNN's Nic Robertson reports from Kandahar about the jockeying for power there (December 8)

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The situation inside Kandahar, I talked with a commander loyal to anti-Taliban commander Yusef Pashtun. He told me that overnight, on Friday night, they believe that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was in Kandahar city. However, they say, by Saturday morning they believe he had gone missing -- and they don't know how he left the city -- but that has given them great cause for concern. They did believe that they knew exactly where he was, that he was inside the city of Kandahar, but now they believe they've lost him. That happened overnight last night.

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Last night on the roads exiting the city they set up checkpoints and were checking all vehicles leaving the city. However, there are several main roads leaving the city, but there are also a lot of routes that lead through the desert region and not through the main highways. They say that they have been patrolling looking for Taliban leaders and indeed their commander Yusef Pashtun says they have been patrolling for the past eight hours looking to see where Taliban forces might be hiding.

Now, also, in Kandahar city there is currently tension between the two tribal forces here. Mullah Naqibullah, who the Taliban surrendered power of the city to controls a section of the western part of the city I am told. He is disliked by a lot of the tribal forces here. They do not think he is a suitable leader to control Kandahar at this time. The reason for that is because they believe he was too close to the Taliban, that in 1994, he surrendered the city of Kandahar to the Taliban too readily. So they find him to be too close to the Talbian and they do not want him currently in a leadership postion in Kandahar.

Now the other tribal elements here are aligned with the interim head of Afghnistan, that is Hamid Karzai. Currently, we are told, there is discussion between these two groups -- the groups representing Hamid Karsai, and the groups representing Mullah Naqibullah. We are told that the situation is being delt with through discussion, and there is no fighting. Indeed, inside the city of Kandahar, we do hear no fighting at all. There are a lot of our men on the streets, we arrived at dusk, people were sitting down outside their stores eating to their evening meal that breaks the fast at the end of each day for a Muslim in the holy month of Ramadan The city, as I say, is quiet and the streets, relatively deserted at this time.



 
 
 
 



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