Taliban Reportedly Down Surveillance Plane

The Taliban’s official news agency reported that the aircraft went down near its border with Uzbekistan. Sources said they were investigating where the plane originated.

At the Pentagon, U.S. officials refused to comment on the incident or discuss whether the plane was American.

The Northern Alliance, a coalition of anti-Taliban forces that control a small section of Afghanistan, said Saturday they had launched a new campaign and had killed 40 Taliban militiamen.

The news of fighting in the north came as the Taliban saw its diplomatic support eroded.

The United Arab Emirates, one of three countries to recognize the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan, severed relations with Kabul.

According to Emirate’s News Agency, the UAE made the decision after the Persian Gulf state was unable to persuade the Taliban to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The other two nations with diplomatic ties to the Taliban, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, were revisiting their policies as well.

In Kabul, Pakistan said it was maintaining a minimal presence at their embassy, but a Taliban security guard told the Associated Press the last Pakistani official had left Friday.

“Now the embassy is closed, and no Pakistani official is in Kabul,” the guard, Akhter Mohammed, told the AP.

The diplomatic moves come a day after the Taliban said it would not turn over bin Laden.

Speaking in Arabic at a news conference, Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef repeated the Taliban’s position, that the United States disclose evidence linking bin Laden to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Zaeef said that until that request is met the Taliban would have nothing further to say regarding bin Laden.

“If they want to show their might, we are ready and we will never surrender before might and force,” Zaeef said. “It has angered Muslims of the world and can plunge the whole region into a crisis.”