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Afghanistan: Taliban Advances North And Holds Kabul

Kabul, 30 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Taliban militia continued its northward advance today while consolidating its hold on the capital Kabul, which it seized last Friday.

Taliban fighters were reported to have entered the strategic Salang Pass, 120 kilometers north of Kabul, after seizing Charikar, the capital of Parwan province as well as Jabal os-Saraj late last night.

On the other side of the Salang Pass, thousands of fighters loyal to ethnic-Uzbek leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum were reported to have moved into positions guarding access to Afghanistan's northern provinces. The northern provinces remain largely controlled by Dostum.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to Ahmad Shah Masood, the chief commander of government forces, appear to have been cornered in their Panjsher Valley stronghold, also north of Kabul.

In Kabul, Taliban commander Mohammed Gul said his forces had no immediate plan to attack Dostum, saying his men would first concentrate on defeating Masood's army before negotiating with the Uzbek commander.

AFP reported that thousands of people continued to flee the Afghan capital as Taliban-controlled radio announced the imposition of strict Islamic law. Civil servants and military officials have been ordered to grow beards. Girls' schools remain closed and all women with jobs outside their houses have been ordered to stay at home until further notice. Pakistani authorities said thousands of Afghans were crowding at the border between the two countries.

Meanwhile, former communist leader Najibullah, who was shot and hanged by the Taliban in Kabul last week, was buried by relatives in his home town today. Taliban radio announced a strict countrywide ban on any public mourning for the former leader, saying his execution was supported by the people.

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov today called Najibullah's killing an "odious massacre," while the Turkish Foreign Ministry offered to host peace talks bringing together Afghanistan warring factions.