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Afghan Battles

November 28, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT


TRISTANA MOORE: The bodies of Taliban prisoners, the courtyard of Kala Janghi Fort is now a burial ground. Northern Alliance soldiers survey the damage, removing whatever they can from the dead. Was this an uprising, mass suicide or slaughter? No one knows exactly what happened. The only certainty is that these were mostly foreign Taliban soldiers. “They’re Chechens and Pakistanis,” this Northern Alliance commander says. “It’s easy to recognize them.” This morning, Red Cross officials were finally allowed into Kala Janghi to remove the bodies of both Taliban fighters and Northern Alliance soldiers.

BERNARD BARRETT: We have no idea the number of bodies, and because we never had access to the prison– this was one of the subjects of discussion– we do not know how many people were in the prison at that time.

TRISTANA MOORE: The Uzbek warlord, General Dostum, visiting Kala Janghi today, said he also didn’t know how many Taliban had been killed. But he denied that the prisoners who were in this custody had been mistreated.

GEN. ABDUL RASHID DOSTUM, Northern Alliance: (Translated) We brought them here so they could be safe. We treated them like brothers.

TRISTANA MOORE: As far as we can gather, these are the events, which led to the uprising. It started on Saturday, when around 500 foreign Taliban fighters left Kunduz after surrendering to the Northern Alliance. They were meant to have been disarmed in the desert by General Dostrum’s men. The Taliban were then taken to Mazar-e Sharif, to Kala Janghi Fort. On Sunday, at around 11:30 in the morning, some of the prisoners here overpowered their guards and seized weapons from the arms dump. Two American CIA agents were inside the fort, questioning the Taliban. Fighting then broke out. The CIA confirmed today that one of their agents was killed. The other man managed to escape to the main building. He called in air strikes by satellite phone, helped by other American and British Special Forces. By 2:00, U.S. jets started bombing the fort. It was only last night when the battle was finally over. (Gunfire) During the three-day gun battle, eyewitnesses described scenes of chaos, with a small group of Taliban holding out till the last moment. The Northern Alliance were taking no chances.