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America Under Attack: Pakistan and Afghan Government Under Pressure

Aired September 13, 2001 - 04:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: Pressure is mounting on the Taliban government of Afghanistan, which the United States has accused of sheltering Osama bin Laden.

Nic Robertson joins us now via videophone from Kabul with the latest on the Afghan angle on the story. Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (OFF-MIKE) for this morning, three United Nations planes took off from Kabul Airport, bound for Pakistan. On board were three international diplomats - one from the United States, one from the United States, one from Australia, one from Germany. They've been here, helping, trying to secure the release of eight international aid workers here on charges of trying to convert Muslims here to Christianity. They have left.

Along with them the last of all the International United Nations staff here. There were 80 in country in total, they are also gone. Along with them, as well, many foreign overseas journalists who were working here. They also have gone. The International Committee for the Red Cross has begun pulling out its 30 international staff who are in this country. A reduction of all international and overseas staff by independent, non-governmental aid groups is also underway and expected to be completed later today.

One the streets of Kabul, there is a growing apprehension and fear about what could be coming next. People here have been listening to the radio - the Taliban radio here. And on that radio station, there has been reports about what's been going on in the United States. People on the streets here also, like their government, condemning the terrorism, offering their sympathies. But very concerned about the possibility that they could be involved in retribution attacks on Afghanistan.

Taliban leadership, late last night, issuing further statements, spokesman Abdul Hai Muttmain, from the spiritual leadership base in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan - appealing to the United States, appealing saying that Afghans where poor. Saying that any attacks on the country would not help Afghans and Afghanistan. Saying that the cost of any missile, any single missile was greater than the cost of any single building in Afghanistan.

They're also saying that killing the Taliban leadership is not a worthwhile thing. And again, distancing Osama bin Laden from the center of international suspicion for these attacks, saying that Osama bin Laden himself could not have been responsible. So clearly, apprehension within the leadership of the Taliban.

Very significantly here in Kabul, as well, the population and the Taliban leadership concerns that any attacks on (AUDIO GAP) could give -- could help open the doorway to the Northern Alliance. That is the group that the Taliban have been fighting against to gain control of the company. The Northern Alliance controls about five percent of the -- of the territory in the northeast part of Afghanistan. There is a front line 30 miles north of the city Kabul. It's been static for the last five years, more or less. There was heavy fighting. We could hear heavy fighting on that front line last night. Taliban jet fighters were taking off, heading in that direction.

The fear amongst some of the population here and amongst the Taliban leadership is that should there be a sustained attack on the Kabul area, that could help push forward an advance by their opposition to retake Kabul. These are all concerns right now in the forefront of the minds, not only of the people here, but also the leadership.

Ralitsa?

VASSILEVA: Nic, thank you.

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