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

Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 21:26 GMT
Carnage after Taleban revolt
Northern Alliance troops outside fort
Northern Alliance troops scaled the fort's mud walls
A three-day revolt by Taleban prisoners at a fortress in northern Afghanistan has left a scene of carnage, with dozens of dead bodies littering the complex along with shrapnel and shell casings.

An urgent enquiry 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
Correspondents and officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross were allowed inside the Qala-e-Jhangi fort, near Mazar-e-Sharif, on Wednesday, after the uprising was crushed by the Northern Alliance, backed by US and British special forces.

The US Central Intelligence Agency has confirmed that one of its officers was killed during the uprising - the first American known to have died in the military campaign in Afghanistan.

The dead officer was named as Johnny "Mike" Spann, who worked for the CIA's clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Enquiry call

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called for an urgent enquiry into the bloodshed. About 500 non-Afghan Taleban prisoners had been detained at the fort after surrendering at Kunduz.

British forces in Mazar-e-Sharif
British and American forces helped direct the onslaught

Dismembered corpses are now being put on stretchers and carried to a waiting truck, under Red Cross supervision.

The BBC's Catherine Davis says an acrid smell hangs in the air inside the complex, where fires still smoulder after the fighting.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh, who also visited the fort, says scores of corpses were strewn around, including 40 in one area smaller than a football pitch. Dozens of dead horses also littered the scene, he says.

Many of the buildings where the Taleban prisoners hid are badly damaged, some reduced to rubble. Dead bodies lie inside, amid the debris of splintered wood and shattered plaster.

Alliance fighters said they found two Taleban in a basement and a grenade was thrown in.

Arms looted

Local alliance commander General Rashid Dostum denied allegations that the uprising was triggered by ill-treatment of prisoners.

A Northern Alliance fighter cries over the body of a killed relative
The alliance says it lost about 40 soldiers

He said the uprising began when a group of prisoners threw a grenade at a general he had sent to assure them they would be well treated.

The prisoners had then looted an arms depot, he said, adding that three of his best generals were killed in the uprising.

The alliance, which says it lost about 40 of its fighters in the battle, crushed the rebellion on Tuesday after intensive US air strikes.

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

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".

The enquiry "should make urgent recommendations to ensure that other instances of surrender and holding of prisoners do not lead to similar disorders and loss of life," it said.

A Northern Alliance spokesman, Abdul Wahid Yasa, told the BBC that the revolt had been started by radical fighters from Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

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".

US warplanes launched up to 30 air strikes against the Taleban prisoners, who put up stiff resistance.

The Pentagon has confirmed that five US servicemen were injured after a bomb went astray.

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
reports from inside Qala-e-Jhangi fort
Johnny Spann Snr, father of dead CIA agent
"He loved his country very much"
See also:

28 Nov 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Fort revolt
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Taleban prison revolt
28 Nov 01 | Media reports
Regional caution over US deployment
24 Nov 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
In the wake of the Taleban
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Meeting Taleban's foreign fighters
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bloodbath at Afghan fort
28 Nov 01 | South Asia
Canadian reporter feared kidnapped
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