BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 23:26 GMT
Taleban 'collapsing' across Afghanistan
Northern Alliance fighters
The opposition's advance has been spectacular
The Taleban are in a state of "collapse" across Afghanistan, according to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In a statement to Parliament, he said anti-Taleban forces were now beginning to succeed in the south of the country, following their sweeping advance south into Kabul on Tuesday.


Now the Taleban have less than 20% of the territory of Afghanistan

Northern Alliance Interior Minister Yunis Qanuni

Mr Blair said: "It is now clear that the Taleban regime is in a state of collapse across Afghanistan".

He was speaking as reports emerged that the Taleban had been forced out of several eastern provinces, and might be losing their grip on the southern stronghold of Kandahar.

Defiant

Despite these territorial losses, the Taleban leadership remained defiant, claiming to be regrouping after what they called a tactical withdrawal from some cities.

But Mr Blair rejected this, saying the claim was a "lie".

Refugee in northern Afghanistan
Afghans have been glued to their radios
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it was gratifying to see the Afghan people getting their country back, but admitted that key Taleban leaders were still at large.

Speaking during a tour of the World Trade Center ruins in New York, Mr Rumsfeld said US special forces were watching key roads in southern Afghanistan as the Taleban fled southward.

He said that capturing the Taleban leaders and al-Qaeda's leader Osama Bin Laden, chief suspect in the 11 September terrorist attacks, would not be easy.

"Finding a handful of people is indeed like finding a needle in a haystack," he said.

In other developments:

  • United Nations calls on all Afghan factions to take part in peace talks without precondition
  • The UK Ministry of Defence says thousands of British troops are on 48-hour standby to be sent to Afghanistan
  • Another leading Pashtun, Gul Agha Sherza, tries to attract Pashtuns away from their support for the Taleban
  • Tens of thousands of refugees are reported to be returning to their homes in territory in northern Afghanistan newly captured by the opposition
  • Evidence emerges of massacres by retreating Taleban forces in the central town of Bamiyan, which they have totally destroyed
  • Pakistan says it hopes no single group will occupy Kabul and calls for a demilitarised zone there

Retreat

Taleban forces appeared to have retreated towards the northern town of Kunduz, where they are surrounded, and to Kandahar in the south.

Northern Alliance fighters look at the bodies of two dead Taleban in northern Afghanistan
There are unconfirmed reports of violence and summary executions
The BBC's Adam Brookes reports from the Chaman border crossing that Taleban fighters making their way into Pakistan said their comrades in Kandahar were still entrenched and ready to fight.

But refugees crossing the border said there were noticeably fewer Taleban in the city, while aid workers said morale among the remaining fighters was low and several commanders had gone to seek refuge in the surrounding mountains.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem said there had been fighting around Kandahar's airport, but it was not clear which tribes were fighting the Taleban, or who was now in control of the site.

The Northern Alliance says there have been popular uprisings in the four eastern provinces of Laghman, Logar, Kunar and Nangahar and that the Taleban have abandoned the central province of Uruzgan.

Click here for map of the battlegrounds

Jalalabad

The BBC's correspondent in Peshawar, Daniel Lak, says Taleban troops have also largely abandoned the eastern city of Jalalabad.

But with rival tribal leaders apparently competing for power, there are conflicting reports about who controls it now.

The head of a newly established Southern Council of Afghanistan, Haji Gardezi, said at least five provinces in the Taleban heartland in central and southern Afghanistan were setting up their own administrations.

The Northern Alliance Interior Minister, Yunis Qanuni, said the Taleban now controlled less than 20% of Afghanistan, as more provinces declared themselves free of their control.

The Northern Alliance have taken control of the key western city of Herat and are preparing to attack Kunduz - the last Taleban foothold in northern Afghanistan.

Taleban 'regrouping'

But Taleban deputy ambassador Sohail Shaheen told Reuters TV that the militia was regrouping.

"In all these provinces there is no clash," Mr Shaheen said. "It was a strategic and tactical withdrawal from all these provinces."

Referring to the Northern Alliance's takeover of Kabul, he said: "We wanted to save the lives of the civilians of Kabul. For the protection of their lives we withdrew from Kabul."

In the capital, Alliance troops have killed at least 11 Arabs and Pakistanis they suspected of supporting the Taleban or al-Qaeda.




Click here for town-by-town guide

Click here to return

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Brookes
"The fate of the Taleban now hangs in the balance"
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"There is frantic diplomacy going on"
The BBC's David Loyn
"The Taleban took out Bamiyan's heart"
See also:

14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden 'safe inside Afghanistan'
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Tense tales of Kandahar power struggle
14 Nov 01 | UK
British troops on standby
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Concern over Afghan massacre reports
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
UN opens new aid route
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Q&A: What next for Afghan diplomacy?
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: The Taleban collapse
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