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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 04:45 GMT
Amnesty calls for prison revolt inquiry
Northern Alliance troops outside fort
The Northern Alliance suffered heavy casualties
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called for an urgent inquiry into the killing of hundreds of Taleban prisoners who staged an uprising near the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

The three-day mutiny in the fortress prison was quashed on Tuesday when the last two Taleban prisoners still holding out were apparently killed by tank fire from their Northern Alliance captors.

A correspondent who gained access to the fortress described a gruesome scene, with the corpses of hundreds of Taleban fighters scattered across a courtyard.


An urgent inquiry should look into what triggered this violent incident... and into the proportionality of the response by United Front [Northern Alliance], US and UK forces

Amnesty International
The alliance, which also lost dozens of fighters, put an end to the rebellion with the help of American bombers and US and British special forces.

About 500 non-Afghan Taleban prisoners had been detained by the alliance in the Qala-e-Jhangi fortress after they surrendered at Kunduz.

An alliance spokesman said all those who were still in the fortress on Tuesday had been killed.

Iraq condemned what it called the "massacre" by US forces and the Northern Alliance, while some Pakistani clerics called for a day of mourning against what they called a "barbaric act".

Amnesty International said there must be an investigation into what triggered the incident, "and into the proportionality of the response by United Front [Northern Alliance], US and UK forces".

Well armed

The alliance says the uprising began when the prisoners killed some of their guards with guns they had reportedly smuggled into the fort, and seized more weapons.

A Northern Alliance fighter cries over the body of a killed relative
The alliance says it lost about 40 soldiers
Some reports say they then attempted a mass breakout.

The Taleban prisoners put up stiff resistance against alliance troops, despite being subjected to heavy bombardment by US aircraft.

The BBC's Catherine Davies, reporting from Mazar-e-Sharif, says the prisoners appeared to be well armed and determined to fight until the end.

The alliance said about 40 of its fighters were killed in the revolt and the Pentagon has confirmed that five US servicemen were injured after a bomb went astray.

Air strikes

US warplanes launched up to 30 air strikes against the fighters, who were originally sent to the fort following their surrender in Kunduz over the weekend.

British forces in Mazar-e-Sharif
British and American forces helped direct the onslaught
On Tuesday morning, lorries carrying some 200 alliance fighters and an anti-aircraft gun arrived at the fortress to quell the revolt.

The fighters were seen scrambling up the ramparts of the fort, while British and American special forces co-ordinated the assault.

By Tuesday evening in Afghanistan, the alliance said it had quashed all resistance inside the fortress.

The International Committee for the Red Cross has been trying to visit the fort to assess the situation.

Paul Gossrieder, ICRC director general, said he had no exact death toll from the Mazar-e-Sharif uprising, but he believed it might be several hundred.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"Three blasts of tank fire killed the last two Taleban"
The BBC's Daniel Lak
"The key to Kandahar province will be the city"
See also:

27 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Taleban prison revolt
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
Herat leader warns of relief crisis
24 Nov 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
In the wake of the Taleban
24 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan warns of Kunduz 'tragedy'
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Meeting Taleban's foreign fighters
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bloodbath at Afghan fort
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