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Afghanistan: Taliban Apologizes For Detaining EU Commissioner

Kabul, 29 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Kabul's ruling Islamic Taliban militia today detained European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Emma Bonino and 18 others for some three hours before releasing them. Afghan Foreign Ministry officials later apologized for the incident.

Reuters quotes a Taliban security official, Hajji Habibullah, as saying Bonino, her delegation, aid workers and journalists were detained after taking pictures of women in a hospital in Kabul.

The Taliban have banned all photographs of living beings, saying they are un-Islamic.

Bonino later told reporters Taliban militiamen with Kalashnikov assault rifles beat some of the non-governmental workers in her party on their backs and threatened her with a Kalashnikov rifle. She said no one appeared to be in charge.

Bonino was in Kabul to assess the effect of the $40 million that the European Union has given for emergency aid in Afghanistan. Before departing for Islamabad, Bonino accused the Taliban of running a "reign of terror."

Meanwhile, the Afghan Islamic Press is reporting that Taliban militia have captured the airport at Mazar-i-Sharif, an opposition stronghold.

The Pakistan-based news agency says that Taliban forces are now advancing toward the northern Afghani city. It said the Taliban had killed 12 opposition fighters in the airport attack. The information could not be independently confirmed.

Earlier, Taliban militia reportedly offered amnesty to the city's defenders if they laid down their arms. Taliban soldiers captured the airport September 9 but were forced to retreat.