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Sunday, September 13, 1998 Published at 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK

World: South Asia

Taleban take opposition stronghold

The Taleban have captured the town of Bamiyan in Afghanistan - regarded as the last major opposition stronghold in the country.

The BBC's Richard Galpin: "Another major Taliban victory"
They said two attacking forces, coming from the north and east, joined up in the town early on Sunday, ousting the forces of the Hezb-e-Wahdat faction who had been in control.

Iran's official news agency later confirmed the town had been captured.

[ image: Taleban fighters have made big advances]
Taleban fighters have made big advances
Bamiyan, which has a Shi'ite population of around 10,000, was under siege for several days by Taleban fighters who broke through opposition resistance to within artillery range of the airport, according to local reports.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that the Taleban had conducted air raids on the town, targeting the airport.

Prison 'killings'

A Taleban spokesman accused the Iranian-backed Hezb-e-Wahdat of killing jailed Taleban fighters before fleeing the town, but said dozens more had been freed from prison.

The Taleban and Iran are locked in a war of words over the killing by Taleban fighters of at least 9 Iranian diplomats when the militia seized the opposition stronghold of Mazar-e-Sharif last month.

Richard Galpin examines the Afghan-Iranian situation
The Taleban's supreme ruler, Mullah Mohammad Omar, accused Iran of slaughtering thousands of Taleban prisoners who were captured after the movement briefly held Mazar-e-Sharif in September last year.

However, he has called on his soldiers to treat prisoners of war in Bamiyan respectfully and in accordance with Islamic principles.

Bamiyan became the main opposition stronghold after the Taleban overran the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif last month, giving them control of more than 80% of Afghanistan.

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