Taleban lose key city
Opposition forces in Afghanistan have seized a key central city from the ruling Taleban.
Bamiyan is a stronghold of Afghanistan's minority Shia Muslim community and falls on the main highway linking the capital, Kabul, to Mazar-e-Sharif in the north.
The Taleban has admitted losing control of Bamiyan. It is the first major military victory for the opposition in more than a year. The city fell to opposition fighters late on Tuesday after they launched an attack from two sides.
"Our forces entered Bamiyan city last night," Mohammad Alizadah, an opposition spokesman, said. "Bamiyan has been fully liberated," he said.
Dozens of Taleban soldiers are said to have died in the assault and its forces have now pulled outside the city limits.
"There are losses on our part. We have left behind a number of vehicles and arms as well," a senior Taleban official said according to the AFP news agency.
The loss of Bamiyan is the biggest setback the Taleban has faced in months. Last year, the ruling militia made several inroads into opposition-held areas, including the capture of key bases along the main supply route to the north.
The Taleban captured Bamiyan in 1998 but has been under constant pressure from opposition forces led by Ahmed Shah Masood.
The latest fighting comes as tough, new United Nations sanctions on the Taleban started last month over its refusal to hand over the Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been displaced by the ongoing war and are living in makeshift border camps, in life-threatening conditions.
UN officials have warned of a major disaster if emergency aid was not immediately made available to the refugees.
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