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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 15:50 GMT
'No more retreat' Taleban troops told
Mullah Omar
This is thought to be the only image of Mullah Omar (L)
The leader of the Taleban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has ordered his troops to stand and fight following the fall of the Afghan capital Kabul, it is reported.

According to the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news agency, Mullah Omar told his troops: "I order you to obey your commanders completely. Do not move here and there ... regroup yourselves.

Do not listen to the propaganda by opposition media. I am in Kandahar and have not gone anywhere

Mullah Omar

"Put up resistance and fight," he said.

The Taleban leader dismissed reports that he had fled to Pakistan as untrue.

Tough war

Mullah Omar made his rallying call to Taleban troops in a radio broadcast in Pashto at about 1630 local time (1200GMT), the AIP news agency said.

He warned the Taleban that they should prepare for a tough war.

Shortly before the address, reports from the opposition Northern Alliance circulated that he had fled into Pakistan.

"Do not listen to the propaganda by opposition media," Mullah Omar said. "I am in Kandahar and have not gone anywhere. This is a fight for Islam".

Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden: Mullah Omar has refused to hand him over

The areas that the Taleban have retreated from in recent days are those that are mainly inhabited by Afghanistan's Tajik and Uzbek minorities.

Now that they are restricted to their Pashtun heartland, it is unclear how the war will continue.

The BBC defence correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, says it is not clear if the Taleban have actually collapsed as a fighting force or whether they are still capable of mounting a determined defence of Kandahar and the south.

The United States has no obvious allies in southern Afghanistan equivalent to the Northern Alliance.

Moreover, our correspondent says the Northern Alliance may be unwilling to press on into largely Pashtun territory.

Islam controversy

Mullar Omar is a reclusive leader, hardly ever seen even by his closest advisers.

He is partially blind after his right eye was damaged by shrapnel when he was fighting Afghanistan's Soviet occupiers in the 1980s.

Afghan woman
Women's rights have been restricted by the Taleban

He has vigorously defended Osama Bin Laden against American allegations that he masterminded the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, accusing the US of trying to cover up their own intelligence failures.

Mullah Omar has presided over the controversial interpretation of Islamic law under which women are banned from work and girls get no education.

Women found guilty of adultery are stoned to death, homosexuals crushed under brick walls, thieves' hands are amputated and murderers publicly executed by victims' families.

Edicts from Mullah Omar have included the death sentence for anyone converting to another religion, as well as the infamous orders to destroy the country's ancient Buddha statues in the town of Bamiyan.

The BBC's Jon Sopel near Konduz, N. Afghanistan
"There is no sign yet of the Taleban surrendering here like they did in Kabul"
Author of 'The Taleban' Peter Marsden
looks at what lies ahead for the Taleban
The BBC's Jim Fish
profiles Mullah Mohammed Omar
See also:

18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Profile: Mullah Mohammed Omar
11 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Bin Laden's command structure
16 Sep 01 | Middle East
Bin Laden divides Arab opinion
17 Sep 01 | South Asia
On edge: Afghanistan's neighbours
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