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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Taliban POWs Revolt in Mazar-e Sharif

Aired November 25, 2001 - 10:07   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.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: We have some more breaking news to report to you concerning some Taliban fighters who've surrendered to the Northern Alliance within the last 24 hours. They're now revolting. Those soldiers were taken to Mazar-e-Sharif and Alessio Vinci is there, watching it all and rather he's joining us now with the very latest -- Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello Catherine. We have received reports from a German television reporter who was inside the compound all day long today where those some 400 Taliban fighters -- mainly foreign fighters -- have been kept since yesterday when they gave themselves up.

This U.S. television reporter had showed us also some footage, so we can certainly believe his story; and he is saying that while he was in there, some Taliban prisoners have blown themselves up using some hand grenades, killing some of the guards who were near them, and then in the chaos, other Taliban fighters seized some machine guns and began a tremendous firefight between some of the Talibans who had seized those weapons and the Northern Alliance soldiers who were there inside this compound.

Now this compound is a fortress-like area that belongs to Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is the top Northern Alliance commander here in Mazar-e-Sharif. And the German television reporter also says that as he was in there, he came across some U.S. military advisers -- one of them was wearing a flag jack and holding a gun in his hand, and in the conversation that he, the German television reporter, had with the U.S. military adviser, he understood that at least hundred -- hundreds of Taliban fighters had been killed and many more had been injured, in a tape that I've heard played out to us here.

Back in Mazar-e-Sharif, the U.S. military adviser is heard talking on the phone saying -- quote -- "We cannot bomb this thing from the sky," meaning that he was advising U.S. military sources outside the compound not to bomb.

However, the German television reporter said that the several hours after that, he heard several loud explosions that were certainly not coming from tanks but from the sky, and he said that he believed that the U.S. military had actually bombed the compound in order to bring that uprising to an end. The German television reporter also told us about a very scary experience that he had in trying to flee the compound. He now is back here safe at the hotel in downtown Mazar-e-Sharif. Back to you -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: Alessio, can you give us any idea about how many Taliban soldiers you're talking about, involved in this uprising now, they're non-Afghans?

VINCI: I witnessed their surrender yesterday afternoon here in Mazar-e-Sharif and actually, we went with the Taliban fighters, those who surrendered inside this compound. As a matter of fact, as we were there yesterday, one of them blew himself up with a hand grenade.

So certainly, those fighters who have surrendered, certainly, had not have given up. There they are fighting. As far as who they were, Northern Alliance officials here told us that the vast majority of them were the so-called foreign fighters: Pakistanis and Chechen, who had come here to Afghanistan on behalf of the al Qaeda's network and fight against Northern Alliance and against the U.S. troops here.

One more detail, Catherine, that I have failed to mention to you: One Northern Alliance official came here to the cell within last half hour and told us that the situation now at the compound is under control. However, we have been here in Mazar-e-Sharif for the last 10 days, and I must tell you this compound is about 15 to 20 miles away from where I am standing, and I am hearing a lot of air traffic coming from that direction.

I have been here all this time, and I have not heard planes flying in this -- so early in the evening, at least from there, Catherine. So the situation is, according to Northern Alliance, under control but certainly, a very fierce fight there today.

CALLAWAY: Yes, Alessio, stay safe. Alessio Vinci joining us from Mazar-e-Sharif. And just a recap for everyone: Some of the Taliban fighters who surrendered to the Northern Alliance are now revolting, uprising -- that situation now apparently under control in Mazar-e-Sharif.

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