October 14, 1996 in Nation/World

Loyalists Drive Soldiers Away From Key City

Associated Press

Fighting raged north of the Afghan capital Sunday as troops loyal to the deposed government hit Taliban soldiers in a series of guerrilla-style attacks.

The Taliban army was believed to have been driven out of Jebul Siraj, the headquarters of former military chief Ahmed Shah Massood about 60 miles north of Kabul.

There also were reports that Taliban forces were being attacked in Afghanistan’s western Herat province and at Shindand, a military air base under Taliban control.

While the reports were impossible to confirm, the loss of Jebul Siraj would be a major setback for the Taliban. The Taliban captured Kabul two weeks ago and solidified its hold over two-thirds of Afghanistan, where it has imposed its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

But since its victory over Kabul, the group has faced stiff resistance from former government soldiers.

Last week, northern warlord Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek who rules seven northern provinces in Afghanistan, formed a military alliance with Massood, deposed President Burhanuddin Rabbani, minority Shiite leader Karim Khalili, and several smaller groups.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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