Dushanbe, 14 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Northern Alliance says that the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar has fallen into the hands of tribal leaders opposed to the militia. The alliance's ambassador in Tajikistan, Said Ibrohim Hikmat, said today in Dushanbe that the Taliban had abandoned Kandahar after a popular uprising. Hikmat said that although "the forces of the Northern Alliance have not entered Kandahar, our allies have taken control."
There has been no independent confirmation of that claim. Other reports say that only the airport in Kandahar -- a Taliban stronghold -- has fallen. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in New York that there was still fighting in and around Kandahar. Rumsfeld added that the main goal of the U.S.-led campaign is to find and punish terrorists and their leaders.
CNN reports that the eastern city of Jalalabad has also fallen to anti-Taliban troops.
"It is, needless to say, gratifying to see the Taliban fleeing and the people of Afghanistan getting their country back. On the other hand, our task is to find the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban leadership and we still have that ahead of us."
Rumsfeld said that U.S. special forces had set up checkpoints along main roads linking the north and south of Afghanistan to "stop people who should be stopped."