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Taleban Surrenders Last Afghan Stronghold -- Kandahar - 2001-12-07


Afghanistan's Taleban has surrendered Kandahar, its last stronghold -- effectively ending the fundamentalist Islamic movement's five-year rule over the war-torn country.

Most Taleban fighters turned over their weapons today (Friday) to a commission led by a former Mujahedin commander (Mullah Naqibullah). Some Taleban fighters are said to have fled Kandahar, and there were some reports of looting.

The Taleban also gave up the few cities it controlled in two neighboring provinces (Helmand and Zabul), as well as the strategic town of Spin Boldak near the Pakistan border.

The (Pakistan-based) Afghan Islamic Press (news agency) says the Taleban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has left Kandahar, but there is no word on his whereabouts.

Pashtun leader Hamid Karzai, who participated in negotiating the surrender, said Mullah Omar has not renounced terrorism, and must face the consequences.

Mr. Karzai, who is designated to lead Afghanistan's new interim government, said he would turn over Taleban leaders and their foreign allies to "international justice."

The United States has said it will not accept any deal that allows Mullah Omar to go free.

Mr. Karzai said he had given a general amnesty to rank-and-file Taleban, but there would be no escape for the militia's leaders and their allies, including members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

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