BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Eyewitness: The liberation of Kabul
Northern Alliance soldiers head towards Kabul
The Northern Alliance moved in at dawn
John Simpson

It was just before dawn that the wild dash for Kabul developed, with thousands of Northern Alliance soldiers intent on capturing the capital.

It seemed to take no time at all to cover the 20 kilometres (12 miles) or so to Kabul.

But as we drew nearer to the city we could see the grim evidence of battle. The roads were littered with the bodies of former supporters of the Northern Alliance who had switched sides and joined the Taleban - no mercy for them.

John Simpson walking into Kabul
John Simpson and his BBC colleagues continued on foot
By now there were no Taleban to resist, but we saw that another man had been captured by Northern Alliance troops.

The presence of our camera probably saved his life - the man himself was paralysed with terror.

Then came the critical moment. Would the Northern Alliance simply race on and pour into Kabul itself - even though they had undertaken not to?

The commander in charge was determined not to let it happen - he ordered the armoured vehicles to block the way and the great advance was stopped in its tracks.

The journey into Kabul

Kabul lay temptingly close below us now.

The small BBC team decided to head on into the city, on our own, and on foot - so no-one would think we were soldiers.

We ploughed on - radio side-by-side with television.

Kabul residents celebrate
The local people were friendly and rejoicing

As we walked into Kabul city we found no problems around us, only people that were friendly and, I am afraid, chanting "kill the Taleban" - although as we understand it there are not going to be that many Taleban around.

It felt extraordinarily exhilarating - to be liberating a city which had suffered so much under a cruel and stifling regime.

It was 0753 local time (0323 GMT) and Kabul was a free city, after five years of perhaps the most extreme religious system anywhere on earth.


Under the Taleban, girls could not be educated, men could be whipped for shaving, all music was banned, it was forbidden to play chess, to sing, to possess a picture of any living creature.

No wonder they were happy - this is the end of the Taleban in Afghanistan.

Dead Taleban
The bodies of Taleban soldiers lay in the ditches

But there was an ugly price to be paid for so much repression. In the streets, in the ditches, lay the bodies of foreign volunteers for the Taleban, especially Arabs and Pakistanis.

The foreigners were particularly loathed and so they were killed - lynched and shot.

In the surroundings of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul we caught sight of a group of Arab and Pakistani Taleban trying to escape the vengeance of the people of Kabul.

But a group of soldiers with guns were already hunting them down, as another arrived bringing grenades to flush them out.

Brutal treatment

They were surrounded and became trapped inside a building.

Some local people had caught another one of the Taleban - an Arab - who was forced to call out to the others who were hiding, to make them come out and surrender.

Captured Taleban soldier
Captured Taleban are shown little mercy

Eventually it worked and the Taleban soldiers were brought out of the building as prisoners - one was a Pakistani, the other an Arab.

The Arab got particularly brutal treatment from his captors - being beaten with rifles and punched.

They were placed in a jeep where they joined other Taleban prisoners - one an Arab, the others Afghans.

The BBC's John Simpson in Kabul
"This is the end of the Taleban in Afghanistan"
The BBC's Rageh Omaar
"Kabul has fallen: but difficult questions remain"
The BBC's John Simpson
reports from Kabul as the Northern Alliance push into the city to cheering crowds
See also:

13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan concern at Kabul's fall
12 Nov 01 | South Asia
Mazar residents hail Taleban defeat
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: The Taleban collapse
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Opposition takes Kabul
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories