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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 09:40 GMT
Kabul falls to Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance soldiers in Kabul
The Northern Alliance has made rapid progress
Northern Alliance troops have taken control of Kabul amid scenes of chaos and jubilation.

In a dramatic overnight advance, Northern Alliance units entered the Afghan capital after Taleban fighters fled towards their southern stronghold, Kandahar.

As looting broke out in the city some Arab volunteers serving with the Taleban were summarily shot and a BBC camera crew was attacked.

Northern Alliance rocket launcher
Troops were backed by rockets and US bombing
There was a vacuum of authority in the city after the Taleban withdrew, but the BBC's William Reeve says the atmosphere is now less tense.

Residents said music - banned by the Taleban - was broadcast on Kabul radio for the first time in five years.

"You can celebrate this great victory," a female announcer told residents - another novelty in a city where women have been banned from most work and education since 1996.

And men have been queuing at barbers' shops to have their beards shaved off - another gesture of freedom from the strict Taleban interpretation of Islam.

Click here for map of the battlegrounds

Northern Alliance Defence Minister General Mohammad Fahim and Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah have now entered Kabul.

Anti-Taleban crowds

Earlier, huge crowds gathered in the city, shouting "death to Pakistan" and "death to the Taleban," the BBC's John Simpson reported.

Correspondents say anti-Taleban anger is directed more towards Osama Bin Laden's foreign volunteers than towards Afghans in the Pashtun-dominated Taleban movement.

BBC correspondent William Reeve in office as bomb hits nearby house
BBC correspondent William Reeve survived a bomb blast in Kabul
Thousands of people were seen crowding around an aid agency and carrying away tents, food and blankets in taxis and on bicycles.

And the Taleban are reported to have taken away the contents of Kabul's money markets and the national bank.

The UN Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson, said there were reports of looting of humanitarian aid "and there is a fear that the situation could turn worse".

The Kabul office of Qatar-based al-Jazeera television took a direct hit from a US bomb overnight. The building was destroyed, but the staff had already left building.

William Reeve says a US bomb landed earlier on a house about 100 metres from the BBC office where he was broadcasting. The blast smashed all the office windows.

In other developments:

  • Northern Alliance forces capture an airport near Kandahar, al-Jazeera television says - but the Taleban deny the report
  • Northern Alliance forces are reported to have captured 50 kilometres (31 miles) of the road to the eastern town of Jalalabad
  • The Taleban take eight foreign aid workers accused of preaching Christianity from Kabul to Kandahar
  • The White House describes the situation in Kabul as "very fluid" - but a senior Pentagon official says the Taleban departure is "great news"
  • A UK Foreign Office spokeswoman urges the international community to "address the situation as we find it in Kabul," with the aim of establishing a broad-based interim government there
  • Pakistan says it hopes no single group will occupy Kabul and calls for a demilitarised zone there
  • UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the UN must move quickly to help set up a representative government in Afghanistan

On the way to Kabul the alliance forces passed through miles of devastation - ruined towns, razed orchards and burnt vineyards, the BBC's Kate Clark reports.

But as soon as they got closer to Kabul, she says, villagers stood cheering on the alliance, some throwing flowers on the tanks as they drove past.

Northern Alliance gains

The advance followed sweeping gains by the Northern Alliance across the north of the country on Monday.

Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan's forces have entered Herat

Backed by US bombing, Northern Alliance troops broke through two lines of Taleban trenches north of Kabul on Monday, leaving only the final defences on the city's outskirts.

The alliance has also taken control of the key western city of Herat and is pursuing retreating Taleban forces in the north-eastern Kunduz province.

In Herat, two opposition factions - the Shi'ite Hezb-e-Wahdat militia and troops under former city governor Ismail Khan - have established control.

Herat commands vital highways leading to Iran and Turkmenistan.

It could also be the gateway for an advance on Kandahar.

The BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the war in southern Afghanistan could be very different, as the Northern Alliance itself may be unwilling to press on into largely Pashtun territory.




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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John Simpson in Kabul
"This is the end of the Taleban in Afghanistan"
The BBC's Rageh Omaar in Kabul
"Kabul has fallen: but difficult questions remain"
The BBC's Peter Greste
"This has been a remarkably peaceful handover by Afghan standards"
See also:

13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan concern at Kabul's fall
12 Nov 01 | Americas
Powers search for Afghan settlement
11 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden nuclear fears calmed
12 Nov 01 | South Asia
Herat, the 'pearl' of Afghanistan
12 Nov 01 | South Asia
Mazar residents hail Taleban defeat
12 Nov 01 | South Asia
Major boost for Afghan aid effort
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: The Taleban collapse
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Opposition takes Kabul
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