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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Taliban Commander in Spin Boldak Surrenders

Aired November 27, 2001 - 06:07   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.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we have breaking news for you with our Nic Robertson. He is at the Chaman Border crossing in Pakistan. Nic, what are you hearing from the Taliban?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Donna, a developing situation here just across the border in Spin Boldak. We've been monitoring the situation the last few days there have been rumors of talks between the Taliban and local tribal commanders that the Taliban would surrender their control of Spin Boldak to these tribal commanders.

Just in the last half an hour one Taliban commander crossed the border into Pakistan. He came to CNN and he told us that his soldiers, 25 Taliban fighters under his command in Spin Boldak would not fight against these tribal commanders and he said therefore, he had had to surrender his command to tribal commanders in Spin Boldak.

This is a developing situation. We do need to speak with other commanders in Spin Boldak. Twenty-five soldiers refusing to fight is significant. Does this mean that Spin Boldak is now with -- under tribal command or is it still under Taliban command.

This is something we need to ask more commanders of inside Spin Boldak. This is, as I say, a developing situation, but it is significant that at this stage one Taliban commander has found that 25 of his fighters under his command refuse to fight and he has had to surrender to local tribal commanders -- Donna.

KELLEY; Nic, I know it's early in the game when you're just getting details, but have you heard if they're going to surrender, if they want to go home, leave the area, be turned over to the United Nations or what they're agreeing to.

ROBERTSON: At this stage all we know is that these 25 Taliban fighters refuse to go into battle with the local tribal commanders against tribal forces here. It's not clear what kind of negotiations have been made. The Taliban have been telling us in the last few days that the demands put up by these tribal leaders have been too stiff -- that there -- that there was too much of a gulf between the two parties and therefore there could be no negotiation.

They were in negotiations last night. Pakistani officials at the border here told us that in Spin Boldak there were negotiations last night. Perhaps this is the fruit of those negotiations, but it's still unclear. So we do not know exactly what will happen to those Taliban fighters other than at this stage they're very likely by now have surrendered their weapons -- Donna.

KELLEY: Nic, thanks very much. Spin Boldak is how close to Kandahar and are there fears, I wonder, that they could make it to Kandahar and fight from Kandahar?

ROBERTSON: Well that's exactly what these tribal commanders would like to do. They would like to find a negotiated solution for Kandahar with the Taliban. They want the Taliban to surrender the control of Kandahar to them. That still -- that still hasn't happened, but Spin Boldak is one of only a couple of towns on a three-hour drive between here from the city of Kandahar, so it is significant. This is the main border town. This essentially without control of this particular town, the Taliban can not essentially control the main highway between here and Kandahar. So geographically a three-hours drive, but the implication of one of only a couple of towns on the main highway falling possibly now at this stage out of the Taliban's control is going to be very significant, not only from it militarily, but also for their morale, it would seem at this stage in Kandahar.

KELLEY: Nic Robertson there at Spin Boldak. Thanks very much for the breaking news there and we'll be checking in with you as you get more details for us. Thanks very much.

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