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Afghanistan: Pashtuns, Alliance To Seek Taliban Surrender

Quetta, Pakistan; 15 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A group of Pashtun tribal leaders from southern Afghanistan has announced its intention to send a delegation to Kandahar to seek a peaceful surrender of the Taliban. Former Kandahar commander Mullah Malung said in Quetta after a meeting of the 12 tribal Pashtun chiefs from six southern provinces that the Taliban are still holding the city of Kandahar and have their own "stable government" in the province.

Malung said that the chiefs warned the Northern Alliance to stay away from Kandahar.

Abdul Khaliq, an aide to the former king, Zahir Shah, said after the meeting that the tribal chiefs had been in contact with Taliban commanders but had not yet touched base with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Meanwhile, attempts by the Northern Alliance to negotiate a surrender of the Taliban troops in the northeastern town of Kondoz apparently failed. That much has been acknowledged by the Alliance's deputy minister, Atiquallah Baryalai, who spoke today with RFE/RL by phone from near Kondoz.

"They are apparently determined to fight. We have asked them to surrender without conditions, under a general amnesty declared by the Islamic State, according to which we guarantee them safety, but they still insist on resistance and fighting, especially the foreigners in their ranks who have taken command," said Baryalai. "And they have taken the people of Kondoz hostage, including children, men, and women."

Reports say the Alliance is awaiting U.S. air strikes against the Taliban to prepare an eventual attack on Kondoz and the town of Khanabad to the east.

Sayed Ibrohim Hikmat, an alliance representative in neighboring Tajikistan, said some 20,000 Taliban fighters, including Arabs, Chechens, and Pakistanis, are inside Kondoz.

Meanwhile, U.S. special forces are blockading main roads leading into southern Afghanistan to try to spot and catch Taliban leaders and prime terror suspect Osama bin Laden. U.S. President George W. Bush has made clear that the U.S. wants bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist network rooted out from Afghanistan.