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Afghanistan: Fighting Continues In Northern Capital

Islamabad, 30 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Taliban militia says its forces are fighting today around the besieged northern capital of Mazar-i-Sharif, the last major city in opposition hands. A Taliban spokesman told the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press that Taliban jets also had bombed the city's outskirts.

The Taliban had reported overnight that its forces had captured the Mazar airport close to the city. But there was no independent confirmation of the report. The Taliban had captured the Mazar airport on September 9, but later was forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, European Union Human Rights Commissioner Emma Bonino left Islamabad today on a visit to Faizabad, northern Afghanistan, after being detained yesterday by Taliban authorities in Kabul. Bonino and her delegation were briefly held by armed Taliban soldiers after group members had taken pictures of women in a hospital in violation of strict Taliban Islamic rules.

Taliban Minister of Information and Culture Amir Khan Muttaqi said today that Bonino and her delegation were responsible for their arrest. Muttaqi said that top officials in the delegation were fully aware of the militia's ban on filming and photography. Bonino met with Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sidiqqi Kanju this morning and asked the Pakistan government to pressure the Taliban to moderate its policies.