Pakistanis May Be Helping Taliban
Friday, August 7, 1998; 4:07 p.m. EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Opposition forces battling for control of Afghanistan said Friday they have captured several hundred Pakistanis fighting alongside soldiers of the Taliban religious army.
The anti-Taliban northern alliance did not say where or over what period the Pakistanis were captured, and neighboring Pakistan has denied its troops are helping the Taliban.
Taliban leader Mullah Omar, in a statement Friday, also denied that Pakistani troops had joined his army's ranks in the bloody conflict in northern Afghanistan. And he rejected claims the Pakistani military has aided his fighters.
Omar said the Taliban don't need outside help to defeat the northern alliance. The Taliban control most of Afghanistan, including Kabul, the capital. The alliance opposing them is fiercely holding on to a dwindling area of northern Afghanistan.
Many outside observers have said that Pakistan, which is predominantly Muslim, supplies weapons to the Taliban, while Russia and Iran are believed to support the northern alliance.
Northern alliance spokesman Abdullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, said his forces repelled a Taliban attack Friday about 15 miles west of Mazar-e-Sharif, the only sizable city not held by the Taliban. Independent confirmation of his report was not immediately possible.
Fighting in the area also was reported Thursday, with both sides claiming victory. The fighting seems to have slowed a Taliban attempt to take Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Taliban have imposed a strict version of Islamic law in areas they control. Most women are barred from work, most girls are prevented from attending school, music is banned, men are required to wear beards and public mutilation of thieves is common.