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Taleban Fighters Still Holding Out in Kunduz, Kandahar - 2001-11-19

Afghanistan's Taleban movement is still holding out in the cities of Kunduz in the north and Kandahar in the south. The fundamentalist Islamic militia has lost most of Afghanistan to the opposition Northern Alliance in the past 10 days.

U.S. warplanes again pounded targets around the city of Kandahar, but there are no signs the Taleban is ready to abandon its power base in southern Afghanistan. Instead, Taleban authorities have reportedly extended the curfew in Kandahar, warning residents they would be shot if they came out of their homes after 8:00 p.m.

An Afghan opposition leader, Hamid Karzai, told VOA from neighboring Uruzgan province that he believes the Taleban will soon surrender control of Kandahar. "I think they will leave, but it may take some time, maybe a few more days," he said.

U.S. planes and forces of the Northern Alliance have also attacked near the besieged city of Kunduz, the last stronghold held by the Taleban in the north. Opposition leaders said a large number of Arab and Pakistani fighters are allegedly preventing Taleban defenders from giving up the fight in Kunduz.

In another development, reports said four international journalists are missing after they were stopped by armed men along a road between the eastern city of Jalalabad and the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Authorities from the new anti-Taleban administration in Jalalabad are reportedly organizing a search in the area. Those missing include two reporters from the Reuters news agency.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to set up a new broad based government have picked up. The Northern Alliance has decided to join all-party talks in a neutral country, and U.N. and U.S. diplomats are trying to arrange a conference of Afghan factions to plan a post Taliban government. The meeting could begin as early as this week.