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Afghan: New Fighting In Northern Afghanistan

Kabul, 10 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - There are reports of new fighting today in Afghanistan's north between the Taliban militia and opposition forces.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) says that opposition fighters from three factions are attacking the city of Pul-i-Khumri, held by the Taliban. AIP says forces of General Abdul Malik, from the Hezb-i-Wahdat Shi'ite Muslim militia, and fighters loyal to Jafar Naderi, are taking part. There is no independent confirmation.

Another opposition faction, led by the former government's defense minister, Ahmad Shah Masood, said again today that the key northern town of Jabul-os-Siraj remains under its control. The town, some 75 kms north of Kabul, is near the Salang tunnel connecting the capital with the north.

Meanwhile, a spokesman (Yar Mohammad Hematwal) for the Taliban-run Bahktar news agency has denied an AIP report that the head of the militia, Mullah Mohammad Omar, visited Kabul this weekend. AIP had reported that the reclusive leader, who is based in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, had made his first visit to Kabul since it was captured by his Islamist militia last September.