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Afghanistan's Northern Alliance Expects Taleban to Surrender Kunduz Today - 2001-11-25


Afghanistan's Northern Alliance says it expects to finalize today (Sunday) the surrender of the Taleban's last northern stronghold -- the city of Kunduz.

The proposed surrender agreement, negotiated over the past several days, guarantees safe passage for Afghan Taleban fighters in the city. But foreign fighters would be detained in camps pending investigation into suspected links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

Alliance military units are preparing to take the city by force in case the foreign fighters refuse to surrender. Alliance officials believe there are thousands of Taleban troops and foreign fighters in Kunduz.

Saturday, Alliance officials said more than one-thousand Taleban fighters and foreign militants defending Kunduz surrendered. Officials say many Taleban fighters laid down their weapons, while others switched sides to join the fight against the Taleban.

Elsewhere, fighting between Alliance forces and the Taleban was reported Saturday at Maidan Shahr, near the capital Kabul. Reuters (news agency) quotes witnesses as saying the clashes stopped after most of the Taleban fighters decided to switch sides, a common practice during Afghanistan's decade-long civil war.

Meanwhile, U-S airstrikes pounded caves and tunnels throughout the country while U-S and Alliance ground troops continue hunting for Osama bin Laden and senior al-Qaida and Taleban officials.

The Associated Press quotes a senior Alliance military commander (Hazrat Ali) in Jalalabad as saying he has credible information the extremist terrorist leader is in the area. The alliance official is quoted as saying Osama bin Laden is hiding in caves by day and traveling between hideouts on horseback at night.

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