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The BBC's Peter Greste reports
"He's a man who has a great amount of respect among the opposition"
 real 28k

Monday, 7 February, 2000, 02:47 GMT
Spotlight falls on Afghan commander

rockets The Taleban control 90% of Afghanistan


The Afghan media has reported that the hijackers want the release of Ismail Khan - a leading commander close to the ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Ismail Khan is from the north-western province of Herat.

He fought the Soviet forces during their occupation of Afghanistan - and became Governor of Herat and neighbouring provinces when the pro-Moscow government of President Najibullah was overthrown.

In 1994, the Taleban captured the north-western provinces.

Fled across border

Ismail Khan lost his power base and his governorship, and fled across the border to Iran.

It was three years later, during a secret trip to north-western Afghanistan to continue his struggle against the Taleban militia, that Ismail Khan was captured.

He has been in jail in Kandahar - the main Taleban stronghold - since then.

Previous appeal

In December 1997, the northern Afghan leader, Abdul Rashid Dostam, made an unsuccessful appeal to the Taleban to release Ismail Khan.

General Dostam said he was prepared to release 70 Pakistani nationals who were captured while fighting for the Taleban in return for freedom for Ismail Khan and a number of Iranian diplomats.

Further details of the continuing hijack are difficult to put together, but the hijackers' demand seems to suggest that their sympathies lie with the northern-based opposition in Afghanistan

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06 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Flying in the face of adversity

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