Mass grave 'contains bodies of Taliban's victims'
War on Terrorism: Massacres
By James Palmer
The Independent (UK) 19 November 2001
Northern Alliance forces showed journalists a mass grave yesterday which they said contained the bodies of anti-Taliban fighters who were massacred by the Taliban before they fled from western Afghanistan.
The Alliance said the grave, near Shindand military airport, was found on Saturday and they accused the Taliban of killing the 27 fighters in the past three weeks in circumstances that are not clear. Many of the bodies had their wrists bound with rope.
Shindand is 80 miles south of Herat, the western city near the Iranian border that fell to the Alliance last week after the fall of the capital, Kabul.
Shindand air base, the second-largest base used by the Soviets during their 1979-89 war, was hit hard by the United States in early October in the bombing campaign that helped theAlliance wrest large parts of Afghanistan from the Taliban.
The discovery of the grave came as Iranian diplomats began cleaning up their gutted consulate in Herat, which they said they hoped to reopen this week. It would be the first diplomatic presence in western Afghanistan since the US bombing began five weeks ago.
The Iranian consulate was torched by a mob of several hundreds in May after the mysterious bombing of a local mosque. The Taliban's Foreign Ministry blamed the bombing on "terrorists' in Iran. Iran subsequently withdrew its consular staff from Herat.
The Iranian flag flew above the consulate as workers carried out burned furniture. Some 15 gutted vehicles stood in the consulate's parking lot.
Workers also were clearing up the airport in Herat, which is littered with the carcasses of more than 20 Russian-made fighters destroyed in an American airstrike in mid-October. A flight engineer at the airport said they hope to make it operational in 10 days.
* BBC2's Money Programme claimed yesterday that accomplices of Osama bin Laden beheaded three Britons and a New Zealander in Chechnya. The four men, Darren Hickey, 26, Rudi Petschi, 42, Peter Kennedy, 46, and 58-year-old Stan Shaw, from New Zealand, were kidnapped in October 1998 by Chechen separatists.
The BBC2 programme claims the group's leader, Arbi Barayev, an ally of Mr bin Laden through an Islamic International Brigade, boasted he would receive $30m (£21m) from Arab friends for carrying out the killings.
According to Russian and Western intelligence, al-Qa'ida's leader had subsidised the Chechen separatists with millions of dollars.
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