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Northern Alliance Trying to Consolidate Control of Kunduz - 2001-11-26

Afghanistan's Northern Alliance said the Northern City of Kunduz is in its hands. But anti-Taleban troops are still trying to consolidate control.

Northern Alliance officials said their soldiers are securing the surrender of most of the city's defenders. But they admit a small group of holdouts have formed a pocket of resistance west of the city, posing a threat to Northern Alliance forces who entered Kunduz on Sunday.

For days, trapped Afghan Taleban troops in Kunduz have been switching sides, as U.S. air strikes helped the Northern Alliance close in on the city and negotiate a surrender. But thousands of foreign fighters, mostly Pakistanis, Arabs, and Chechens with links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida organization had refused to give up, fearing retribution by alliance fighters.

Hundreds of foreign fighters did surrender to Northern Alliance commanders. They are the comrades to the prisoners who staged Sunday's bloody uprising in a mud fortress outside the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. About 300 prisoners who had been taken captive Saturday in Kunduz seized weapons to try to fight their way out of the fortress.

Alliance officials said most of the prisoners have been killed, but the insurrection has reportedly not been put down. Witnesses said several dozen prisoners barricaded in the tower of the fortress fired rockets at Northern Alliance troops.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said it is concerned about the continued fighting in northern Afghanistan. U.N. spokesman Khalid Monsour said the lack of security in Mazar-e-Sharif caused delays in the delivery of humanitarian aid through Uzbekistan.

"U.N. missions scheduled to leave for Mazar-e-Sharif and Termez over the weekend have to be postponed. Likewise the situation in Kunduz is not stable yet," he said.

Kunduz sits on a vital road link to Uzbekistan's neighbor Tajikistan that could also be used to deliver humanitarian aid.