Anti-Taliban Afghan govt vows to continue its fight
Kuala Lumpur, Sept 18, IRNA -- The anti-Taliban Afghan government, mourning the death of its military chief, Ahmad Shah Masood, vowed to continue its military campaign against the Taliban regime, the official Bernama news agency reported on Monday.
Abdul Sattar Murad, Afghanistan's ambassador to Malaysia, said that Masood has been declared a national hero, the highest recognition in Afghan history by President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
"His death will not weaken the determination of the nation but rather further strengthen the determination and resolve of our people and nation to fight terrorists and mercenaries," Abdul Sattar said, as quoted by Bernama.
He said a one-week mourning period for Massod had been declared.
Masood was known as the "Lion of Panjsher Valley" for his heroism and ability to counter the former Soviet forces, especially in this strategic valley, for more than 10 years from 1979.
Abdul Sattar said Intelligence Chief Gen Mohammad Fahim had replaced Masood and would now lead the ongoing military campaign against the Taliban, which grabbed power in September 1996 from Rabbani's government and controls about 70 percent of the Central Asian nation of some 20 million people.
The ambassador reiterated his government's allegation that the Taliban regime and Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden masterminded Masood's assassination with the help of a foreign country.
The legendary Masood, 48, top Afghan resistance fighter during the Soviet's occupation, died in hospital on Friday from wounds suffered in a suicide bomb attack by two Algerians posing as journalists last Sunday.
Commenting on General Fahim, Abdul Sattar said he was one of Afghanistan's top commanders and freedom fighters during the Soviet occupation who fought alongside Masood and was the key man executing military operations planned by Masood against the Taliban.
Both Masood and Gen Fahim, who is in his mid-40s, are from the Panjsher Valley of the northern Parwan province.
Abdul Sattar also said that reliable sources had informed his government that some Taliban commanders have deserted Kabul and were fleeing to Pakistan in anticipation of an American attack.
Afghanistan has been gripped by a war fever after planes hijacked by terrorists believed to be linked to Osama crashed in New York and Washington on Tuesday.
Osama is being protected by the Taliban regime which has been condemned by the international community for its human rights abuses.
The Taliban are only recognized by three countries--Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates--while the United Nations and many countries, including Malaysia, recognize the Rabbani government as the legitimate authority.
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