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Eyewitnesses say US-led Bombing Weakening Taleban - 2001-10-12

Eyewitnesses to the U.S.-led bombing in the north of Afghanistan say the attacks are weakening the Taleban. The eyewitnesses claim that in the town of Talaqan, some Taleban commanders have run away, taking their families with them.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ahmad Gul was in the town of Talaqan during the American-led air strikes on Wednesday. He said they struck the airfields and destroyed the Taleban's military helicopters. He said the fire at the airfields burned until the following morning.

Mr. Gul said he was frightened that war would follow and that he would lose his livelihood. He is a merchant, so he loaded all his goods onto 40 donkeys and left the city along with ten others.

This reporter met them after they had walked for more than 12 hours to escape Talaqan.

Mr. Gul said they were not the only ones getting out. He said he saw Taleban commanders packing their belongings and their families into Jeeps and fleeing. Those leaving were mostly foreign Taleban commanders from Pakistan and Arab countries.

Talaqan was a regional headquarters for the Northern Alliance until the Taleban captured it 13 months ago. The Northern Alliance was forced to relocate in the desert village of Khodja Vahaouvin and thousands of local residents fled their homes. They claimed that the Taleban fighters were beating them and shutting down their businesses. They now live in refugee camps in the desert without running water and are dependent on aid agencies for food.