U.S. citizens arrested: Taliban

ISLAMABAD, NOV. 1. The Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan today claimed that the militia has arrested some U.S. citizens and investigations against them were in progress.

Addressing a news conference here, Mullah Abdul Saleem Zaeef said, ``we have a few American citizens with us. They have been arrested. Their identities are not known so far. The investigation is on''.

He said he had no information on how or when they were detained. A section of the media had reported that the Americans were captured when the Taliban forces apprehended the Afghan opposition commander, Abdul Haq, who crossed secretly into Afghanistan to raise a rebellion, and was executed last week.

(A PTI report said nearly 1,000 heavily-armed pro-Taliban Pakistani tribesmen crossed into Afghanistan to join the militia in the war against the U.S. even as American strikes overnight and this morning damaged the country's biggest dam and power station and severely disrupted Taliban's lines of communication.)

On Turkey's decision to join the U.S.-led coalition fighting Afghanistan, Mullah Zaeef said soldiers joining the U.S. forces would be considered enemies. ``Soldiers from any Muslim or non- Muslim country joining the Americans are our enemies.'' He said any country that joined the war would have to face `jehad'.

In another development, the Urdu daily, Ausaf, has reported that the Taliban allowed an army comprising 10,000 activists of the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) to come to Afghanistan to fight the ``jehad'' against the U.S.-led forces.

The TNSM chief, Sufi Muhammad, along with a 100-member delegation had visited Afghanistan to seek permission in this regard. According to the report, the U.S. planes and the Northern Alliance forces attempted to target Sufi Muhammad's convoy, but Taliban's timely action foiled their attempt.

Another report in the Urdu daily, Jang, said the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had ordered the killing of all pro- Zahir Shah commanders in and outside Afghanistan. A list of such commanders had been prepared after consulting the Al-Qaeda.

According to a report in the Pakistan, differences among the Northern Alliance commanders have been growing following the death of Ahmad Shah Masood.G> Commander Bismillah, a former close aide of Masood, had appointed Engineer Arif as chief of intelligence, replacing Mr. Muallim Naeem. Soon after the killing of Masood and the appointment of Gen. Faheem as chief of the Northern Alliance, Gen. Faheem re-appointed Mr. Naeem as intelligence chief, dismissing Arif Engineer. Mr. Naeem's appointment was a setback to Mr. Wali Masood, Ahmad Shah Masood's brother, and Commander Bismillah and they conveyed their displeasure to Gen. Faheem but he did nothing to satisfy both the important commanders.

The paper said that Mr. Wali Masood and Commander Bismillah have refused to join the attacks launched by the Northern Alliance to capture Kabul and that was the main reason behind the Alliance's repeated defeats on the Kabul front.

Villages bombed

AP reports from Bagram:

U.S. jets bombed three Taliban-held villages on the frontline, north of Kabul, on Thursday, fighters in the Northern Alliance said.

The first round of strikes targeted the villages of Qalai Nasro and Qalai Gulai, located about 2 km apart on the frontline, about 40 km north of the Afghan capital.

Then on Thursday afternoon, two U.S. jets dropped bombs on the village of Starghech, 2 km inside Taliban territory. The strike apparently hit a Taliban artillery piece. The village houses about 500 Taliban soldiers believed to have at least one tank.

A Northern Alliance official in Dushanbe, capital of neighbouring Tajikistan, said on Wednesday that Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. commander of the Afghan campaign, agreed with the Alliance's top commander this week to coordinate airstrikes with the anti- Taliban opposition headquarters.

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