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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 16:36 GMT
Survivors found at Mazar fort
Red Cross worker with stretcher
Red Cross workers have been clearing away the bodies
More than 80 survivors are reported to have come out alive from the ruins of an Afghan fort-prison where hundreds of their colleagues were killed in a three-day revolt earlier this week.

A New York Times journalist, James Hill, told the BBC that 13 men surrendered on Friday - the rest emerged on Saturday after Northern Alliance forces flooded their hiding place in the fort's basement.

Speaking to the BBC World Service programme Newshour, Mr Hill said it appeared the men - many of whom were badly injured - had run out of ammunition and had not eaten for several days.

He said he believed the wounded were being taken to hospital, while the fittest of the survivors would be interrogated by troops under the Northern Alliance commander in the area, General Abdul Rashid Dostum.

A Red Cross official in Kabul, Bernard Berret, said their officials were trying to gain access to check on the condition of the detainees.

General Dostum
General Dostum: Prisoners "not mistreated"
The uprising by the foreign Taleban fighters began on Sunday and was not finally suppressed until Northern Alliance troops were given substantial support by special forces from the US and UK.

At least 30 air strikes were launched against the Qala-e-Jhangi fort, where the prisoners had been taken after surrendering at the northern city of Kunduz.

It has become one of the most controversial chapters in the Afghan war, with human rights groups demanding an inquiry into the deaths of the prisoners.

Burning oil

James Hill said all the soldiers found on Saturday had faces blackened with soot.

This is believed to be from burning oil which Northern Alliance soldiers poured into their hiding place on Tuesday to kill them or force them out.

"A lot of them are seriously wounded, bullet wounds to the chest, to the legs," Mr Hill said.

The prisoners included Pakistanis, Arabs and Afghans.

One prisoner told Mr Hill that the corpses below had been so badly burned that they were completely unrecognisable.

Row over inquiry

On Friday UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson said she would support an international inquiry into the killing of the prisoners.

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

The US and British Governments say no inquiry is needed.

It is not clear how the uprising started.

The Northern Alliance said the prisoners launched an attack when an alliance general went to reassure them that they would be well treated.

Other reports said the fighting started when US secret agents began questioning the prisoners to ascertain if any had links to Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation.

A number of the dead prisoners were found with their hands tied behind their backs.

The BBC's Grant Ferrett
"The future of the survivors must be, at best, highly uncertain"
James Hill, photo-journalist for the New York Times
"A lot of them are very seriously wounded"
Bernard Berret, Int. Committee of the Red Cross
"We heard reports that there were people who had been detained"
See also:

01 Dec 01 | South Asia
Kandahar prepares for showdown
01 Dec 01 | South Asia
Calls mount for Afghan fort inquiry
29 Nov 01 | UK Politics
UK rules out prison revolt inquiry
28 Nov 01 | South Asia
Carnage after Taleban revolt
29 Nov 01 | South Asia
Fort revolt: What really happened?
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Taleban prison revolt
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bloodbath at Afghan fort
01 Dec 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden 'bought off' Taleban
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