Islamabad, 25 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Northeastern Afghanistan militia leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar (pictured) said today that he is heightening his jihad or holy struggle against antiterror coalition forces and peacekeepers in Afghanistan. In a Pashtun-language message distributed in Pakistan by his followers, Hikmatyar said his fighters are allied with those of the defeated Taliban and the Al-Qaeda terror network.
U.S. Special Forces are operating in Afghanistan's northeastern Kunar Province, seeking to flush out fugitive Al-Qaeda fighters and Hikmatyar's followers. Hikmatyar heads the Hizb-i Islami party.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations yesterday, the Security Council gave unanimous backing to the Kabul Declaration, a nonaggression pact signed by Afghanistan and its neighbors.
China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan's transitional government signed the declaration.