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Afghanistan: U.S. Planes Pound Last Taliban Stronghold

Chaman, Pakistan; 2 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. bombers kept up a assault on the Taliban's last bastion of Kandahar today as Pashtun tribesmen battled Osama bin Laden's Arab fighters entrenched in the southern Afghan city's airport. Waves of U.S. warplanes are flew northwards over the Pakistani border town of Chaman through the night. Huge explosions shook the air as bombs crashed into targets around the Taliban-held town of Spin Boldak just across the desert frontier.

A tribal spokesman said the Taliban's Arab allies were "fighting to the death" as Pashtun tribesmen kept up an assault on Kandahar airport until shortly before dawn.

Khalid Pashtoon, a spokesman for former mujahedin Kandahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai, said the Pashtun are not consolidating their front line since it is already very strong. Pashtoon said the Pashtun "keep pushing, pushing, pushing."

Pashtoon said Gul Agha's forces, which cut the road between Kandahar and Spin Boldak nine days ago, are now some 25 kilometers south of Kandahar city.

Also, the United Nations today presented representatives of four Afghan factions meeting in Germany with a seven-page draft agreement outlining an interim government for Afghanistan.

The document provides for a 20- to 30-member council to govern Afghanistan for six months. The proposal also provides for one commission to help establish a supreme court and another commission to help organize the convening of an emergency Loya Jirga, the traditional assembly of elders. The former king of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, is expected to symbolically head the Loya Jirga.

However, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said so far none of the four delegations to the talks near Bonn have presented a list of their nominees for the government.

The UN draft also proposes the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Afghanistan until there is an effective Afghan security force in place.