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Afghanistan: President In Tajikistan; Masood Attacks Taliban

Dushanbe, 26 May 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say ousted Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani has arrived in Tajikistan in the wake of the major military successes of the Taliban movement in northern Afghanistan.

News agencies quote sources as saying Rabbani was in the southern Tajik town of Kuliab. His ally against the Taliban movement, warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, has fled to Turkey following the fall of Dostum's stronghold Mazar-e-Sharif.

Rabbani was forced out of Kabul by the Taliban last September. His military commander Ahmad Shah Masood today staged a blocking action against Taliban forces which prevented them advancing through the strategic Salang pass, some 80 kilometers north of Kabul.

News agencies report that both sides are using artillery and rockets, and that the Taliban is trying to dislodge the Masood forces from hilltop positions. Masood is the only major warlord still fighting the Taliban, who now control most of Afghanistan.