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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New war: Developing Stories in Afghanistan

Aired October 1, 2001 - 06:02   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: And there is a civil war being waged inside of Afghanistan right now. Chris Burns is in northern Afghanistan. He is traveling with the Northern Alliance and he is near the front lines.

Good morning, Chris, was there overnight fighting?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.

Well yes there was, actually. This does continue the Northern Alliance trying to topple the Taliban that toppled them five years ago. They're continuing to put the pressure on the Taliban, especially in the north where fighting has raged on.

There are conflicting reports over who has control over the town of Cadis (ph). The Northern Alliance claim to have beaten back the Taliban and taken it back; however, the Taliban now say they are taking it back. The Northern Alliance claims to have taken 30 Taliban fighters prisoner along with their commander and they're saying that some of the Taliban are actually coming over to the other side. They say 200 Taliban fighters defected along with 19 commanders. The fighting also rages on. Of course that can't be confirmed independently. Those are claims by the Northern Alliance.

Another claim by the Northern Alliance is in the town of Namakhow (ph), which is also in the north. They say that they repelled a Taliban attack and killed four Taliban fighters. A little bit conflicting reports over what we saw over the skies of the front here north of Kabul. Difficult to say exactly what happened. We saw some artillery blasts. The Taliban radio says that 12 Northern Alliance fighters were killed in some kind of an explosion. The Northern Alliance claims that it was transporting ammunition and that 13 civilians were killed. In any case, this all points to a very stalemated conflict.

The Northern Alliance hoping against hope that the United States will provide them some kind of help, weapons (AUDIO GAP), perhaps air strikes to try to break this deadlock so they can move on to Kabul and oust the Taliban -- Carol.

LIN: Chris, is the Northern Alliance still in heated discussions with the United States, exchanging intelligence, asking for more supplies as they were say just a week to two weeks ago? BURNS: Absolutely, that does continue. They're saying that if they had the weapons to fight -- if they had more weapons to fight beyond the aging former Soviet hardware, beyond some of the Russian materials that they're getting as well, if they had more from the United States, they could actually expedite this conflict, kick the Taliban out of power and help the United States proceed in going after Osama bin Laden. That's what they're hoping. They say up to now that they have received nothing material, that up to now it's only really just talk. But from the indications that we're seeing coming out of Washington, that was the last couple of days, it does seem like the Bush administration is leaning toward providing help -- material help to some of those militias that are fighting against the Taliban -- Carol.

LIN: And since they are in these discussions, do they have a better grasp on any sort of a timetable for military action by the United States? Do they have a sense that there's anything happening soon?

BURNS: Well, when we spoke to Abdullah Abdullah, the Foreign Minister of the Northern Alliance, yesterday, he said that he feels -- the indications that he sees are that it's a matter of days before the United States strikes. However, he's not really getting a whole lot of intelligence information. It sounds like they're trying to pass on what they know about Osama bin Laden and about the Taliban to the Americans. Americans providing some intelligence information from unmanned drones flying over various battle areas. But as far as coordinating any kind of attack against the Taliban, a United States and Northern Alliance coordinated attack, there are no public indications to that affect yet, Carol.

LIN: And we probably won't expect much of that. All right. And certainly no head warning.

Thanks so much. Chris Burns reporting live from Northern Afghanistan -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right let's stay in the region and go just a bit south from there. Our Tom Mintier checks in now from Islamabad, Pakistan, giving us the latest on the Taliban's flip flop there about whether they know or not where Osama bin Laden is.

Morning, Tom.

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon, definitely a flip flop. They've been saying all along for days we simply don't know where Osama bin Laden is and less than 12 hours ago they found him. They say they now have him. He is under the control of the Taliban in an undisclosed location. Now they say they continue to move Osama bin Laden around but they indeed have him inside Afghanistan and have him under the control of the Taliban, something that we hadn't heard from the Taliban earlier.

Also, the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan also indicating a willingness by the Taliban to negotiate. They say they want to see the evidence. They might consider if the evidence is strong enough of handing Osama bin Laden over, but really nothing very concrete in that direction. Of course Defense Secretary Rumsfeld commented immediately after the word came out that Osama bin Laden had been found that they simply didn't believe the Taliban statements that first they didn't know where he was and now that they do where they have him under control or not. So basically a disbelief by U.S. officials about the situation with Osama bin Laden.

But the Taliban is saying they indeed know where he is and they basically have him under their control but finding him may be something else or negotiating a hand over also something else because the United States says that time for negotiation has well passed -- that's what U.S. President George W. Bush has said. The Taliban are saying and seem to indicate a willingness to negotiate on the fate of Osama bin Laden possibly because it's now in the 11th hour -- Leon.

HARRIS: Tom, let me ask you about something that's happening there or may be happening there in Pakistan. Yesterday Christiane Amanpour, as you know, had a long extended interview with the president, General Musharraf, and he indicated that he believes that those who are speaking out against Pakistan's joining this coalition with the U.S. is actually -- that group is now in the minority of that country. Have you been able to get any evidence that there has been a changing of -- in that tide there?

MINTIER: Well when you talk to people about the numbers of opposition to the president's position and the government's position of helping the United States, they do the math for you. They basically say it's less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the population of the ones that are out on the street. When you talk about 8, 10, 15, even, they say, 40,000 people coming out to a demonstration, you have to remember there are 140 million people in Pakistan so it is a very, very small percentage but a very vocal percentage. These people are very, very dramatic when they come out on the street, they're very loud and they get people's attention.

There was a rally on Thursday here called Solidarity Day in Pakistan. Now while the numbers were not the same as what we've seen in Karachi and elsewhere, these people had a different demeanor on the streets. This was a demonstration that was allowed by the government. It was, in many cases, sponsored by the government.

On Saturday there was another demonstration of about 30 to 35 people called Concerned Citizens for Peace. Now this demonstration was stopped by Islamabad police. They loaded up the organizers in a truck and took them off to the police station. So I guess it depends on which side you're backing as whether you're allowed to demonstrate. But you know rightfully so, as the president says, it is a small minority, a very vocal minority, but a small minority who are opposed to what he has done.

HARRIS: Tom Mintier reporting live for us this morning from Islamabad, Pakistan, thank you very much.

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