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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 09:46 GMT
Hundreds of bodies found in Mazar
A Northern Alliance commander talks to a Taleban commander
There are fears for the treatment of Taleban in Kunduz
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it has recovered up to 600 bodies in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

The organisation could not specify whether the victims had died in the fighting or had been summarily executed after the Northern Alliance captured the town from the Taleban two weeks ago.

The ICRC says it now fears for the safety of thousands of Afghan and Taleban fighters trapped in the town of Kunduz.

Taleban prisoners in Kabul
There have been reports of prisoners being executed

"There have been stories of executions and that would be a concern too, because summary executions are clearly prohibited under the Geneva convention," ICRC spokesman Bernard Barrett told Reuters news agency.

The organisation and several US allies including Britain have called for prisoners to be properly treated.

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he hopes the Taleban fighters in Kunduz will all be killed or taken prisoner.

Mr Barrett said Red Cross representatives had expressed concern about the treatment of civilians and prisoners to both the Northern Alliance and the US-led coalition.

The United Nations shares the fear of a bloodbath and has also expressed concern about what a World Health Organisation official called the "desperate state" of hospitals.

The ICRC said its workers had so far recovered between 400 and 600 bodies in Mazar-e-Sharif, warning that more would probably be found.

Aid workers have buried around 300 corpses and say that an unknown number of other bodies have probably already been buried by family members or military forces.

Revenge fears

The ICRC expressed particular concern about the safety of thousands of foreigners - mostly Arabs, Chechens and Pakistanis - fighting with the Taleban in Kunduz.

Alliance fighters have said they will kill all foreign Taleban fighters, resented because of their reputation for cruelty.

The ICRC contacted the Northern Alliance following a request from the United Nations, Mr Barrett said.

"The ICRC made clear its role in terms of representations to the authorities and detaineees, but as for the political aspects of the terms of surrender, that's simply not our job," he said.

See also:

16 Nov 01 | South Asia
US allies deny 'Mazar massacre'
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Concern over Afghan massacre reports
10 Nov 01 | South Asia
The price of victory in Mazar
23 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: The tough battle for Mazar
23 Oct 01 | South Asia
Mazar-e-Sharif's bloody history
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