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Taleban Says Omar, Bin Laden Remain Safe - 2001-11-14

The Taleban is denying that its spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has fled Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. A Taleban spokesman says that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden both remain safe in Afghanistan.

After Taleban troops retreated from the Afghan capital of Kabul to the city of Kandahar Tuesday, Taleban leader Mullah Omar called on them to stand and defend Kandahar to the last man.

A Taleban spokesman says the retreat from Kabul was strategic and Taleban forces were regrouping for a guerilla war.

Meanwhile, Northern Alliance troops were warmly welcomed by the people of Kabul who rose before dawn to honk their car horns and shout congratulations as the soldiers entered the city.

There were jubilant scenes as men shaved their beards, woman removed the head to foot veils known as burkas and music blared from shops. The Taleban had forbidden the playing of music and enforced beards for men and burkas for women as part of their strict interpretation of Islam.

There are also reports of looting in the city including of aid agency warehouses. The Northern Alliance says it entered the city of Kabul to prevent the breakdown of law and order following the departure of the Taleban.

But there are also unconfirmed reports that Northern Alliance troops are carrying out summary executions of hundreds of Taleban prisoners in the town of Mazar-e-Sharif, which the Northern Alliance captured last Friday.

Northern Alliance President Burhanuddin Rabbani warned his soldiers against mistreatment of people in captured territories. Remember, the world is watching you, he said.