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Northern Alliance in Firm Control of Kabul - 2001-11-13

Northern Alliance troops are now in firm control of the Afghan capital after thousands of Taleban troops abandoned the city during the night. There were scattered incidents of violence in the capital Tuesday but a heavy Northern Alliance troop presence has kept order for the time being.

Five years of Taleban rule in Kabul came to an abrupt end when columns of Taleban troops and supporters began moving out of the city late Monday. The exodus continued until Tuesday morning when small groups of Northern Alliance fighters began moving through their city, sometimes to the cheers of local residents.

Taleban stragglers and small groups of Arabs, Pakistanis and other foreign Taleban supporters engaged in hit and run attacks against Northern Alliance forces but they were quickly captured or killed.

There was also scattered looting in the center of the city until Northern Alliance security forces imposed order. Speaking in Islamabad, the spokeswoman for the U.N. office on Afghanistan, Stephanie Bunker, said ordinary people were also taking measures to safeguard their security. "As of mid-afternoon special forces of the Northern Alliance had been posted at intersections," she said. "Apparently efforts are being made to keep the situation under control. Guards are being assigned to protect U.N. premises. It also appears that in some areas of the city, people in neighborhoods are organizing themselves to try and protect themselves and their property."

U.N. officials say food and aid deliveries have been disrupted over the past few days due to the deteriorating security situation, but food aid already in Afghanistan should be sufficient for the time being.

Former Afghan President Burhannudin Rabbani has urged Northern Alliance commanders to insure the security of newly captured territory saying the "entire world is watching." Mr. Rabbani congratulated alliance commanders and said a future Afghan government should include all Afghans, regardless of their ethnic and religious background.

U.N. officials say while the security situation in Kabul seems to be tense but peaceful, the same cannot be said about the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. There they say say Northern Alliance forces massacred at least 100 young men who had joined the Taleban recently. U.N. officials also say there has been widespread looting in Mazar-e-Sharif.

As they left Kabul, the Taleban took eight foreign aid workers they arrested in August on charges of spreading Christianity. Taleban forces appeared to be heading south to their stronghold Kandahar.

Rasul Baksh Rais, the Director of the Area Studies Center at Qaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad says a guerrilla war could be the Talebans ultimate strategy. "They will be simply a fragmented militia here and there in different parts of Afghanistan harassing their opponents but I think over time they will be weakened," he said.

As their troops took control of Kabul's streets, senior Northern Alliance officials moved into newly vacated Taleban ministries. Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim were both seen in the capital directing operations.

The Afghan Islamic Press which has close ties to Taleban leaders reports the Taleban supreme leader Mullah Omar spoke to his commanders late Tuesday on a Taleban radio network. The Taleban supreme leader urged his troops to regroup, obey their commanders and not desert.