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Afghan: Anti-Taliban Forces Form New Alliance

Kabul, 16 June 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Reports from northern Afghanistan say that three key anti-Taliban forces have formed a new alliance and have set up what they call a provisional government.

The new grouping brings together the forces of ethnic Uzbek warrior General Abdul Malik, Tajiks led by former President Burhanuddin Rabbani and the Shi'ite Mulsim party Hezb-i-Wahdat.

Analysts say that the opposition Uzbek, Tajik and Shi'ite forces have little in common apart from a shared fear of the Taliban. They have been struggling to forge a more cohesive alliance, and their efforts apparently paid off in the last few days.

Rabbani said after talks with Malik over the weekend that technocrats would replace guerrilla faction leaders in the new government, but that there would be no changes in the top leadership.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) based in Pakistan is today reporting a fresh attack by Afghanistan's opposition forces against the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban militia.

The agency says guerrillas loyal to former government commander Ahmad Shah Masood used artillery to pound Taliban positions north of the capital, Kabul. The fighting is going on at Pul-i-Matak, between the towns of Charikar and Jabal-os-Siraj on the main highway to the north.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is due to visit the Iranian capital Tehran today for talks on the situation in Afghanistan.