Socialist Worker

Fuelling their allies' attacks

Issue No. 1777

On Monday Associated Press correspondent Ellen Nickmeyer reported from the northern town of Kunduz on the scenes that accompanied its capture by Northern Alliance forces:

'The opposition forces which have taken Kunduz from the Taliban after two weeks of siege exacted bloody reprisals.' She described how '100 Taliban have been killed'. She also reported that other prisoners 'had been taken away with their arms tied' to an unknown fate.

The Red Cross reported last Thursday that up to 600 bodies had been found in the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif in the wake of the 'liberation' of that city. The Red Cross was not saying at the start of this week how these people met their deaths.

But it would not rule out that they had been victims of summary execution in the wake of the fall of the town. It is known that hundreds of Taliban prisoners were killed in a school in Mazar when it was blasted by US war planes. And there is no doubt about the role that the US and Britain played in the bloody massacre of hundreds of Taliban prisoners in a fort near Mazar-e-Sharif at the start of this week.

Hundreds of Taliban troops who had surrendered were taken by the forces of Northern Alliance warlord General Dostum. The prisoners seem to have attempted to stage some kind of breakout. Journalist Luke Harding was in Mazar and described what happened for the Guardian.

He said, 'The fighting appears to have started when the guards began tying up the prisoners. They had managed to secure 250 of the 450 detainees. The remaining prisoners, suspecting they were about to be executed, then revolted.' The response was savage.

US and British forces on the ground in Mazar directed Northern Alliance fighters in the butchery of the prisoners. Luke Harding reported from the city that 'eight British SAS soldiers were coordinating the mission to wipe out the Taliban' prisoners.

A German TV station broadcast footage of a US soldier calling in air strikes on the fort. The bombs and rockets soon arrived as US Black Hawk helicopters and deadly AC130 gunships rained down death.

'The mission by the Americans and Northern Alliance is to kill every single one,' reported eyewitness Alex Perry, a journalist for Time magazine. The US even bombed those forces it has been backing, killing at least eight Northern Alliance soldiers and injuring five of its own US troops. It has thrown its military power behind one gang of warlords in Afghanistan's civil war. Journalist Rory McCarthy reported from near Kabul:

'Armed warlords operating in the hills of eastern Afghanistan have begun ambushing and looting cars and buses as large areas of the countryside slide back into anarchy.' There can only be more carnage brought by US bombs, the butchery carried out by its allies, and the chaos unleashed as local warlords seize the chance to carve out local fiefdoms.

'Some of the bodies lying on the streets had their big toes tied together so they could not run. They had been executed. All around the [Northern Alliance] soldiers' feet lay the Taliban they had massacred,' said Independent journalist Justin Huggler in Kunduz

School target

'IF THE Americans can see a tank from the air, why can't they read our sign?' That desperate question was asked last week by Maulavi Mohamed Mohamed, a religious leader in the village of Gluco, near the Khyber pass crossing into Pakistan.

Villagers had painted a sign with 10 foot high lettering in English on the roof of the local school. It read simply, 'This is a school.' The village is under the control of anti-Taliban forces. Yet US warplanes bombed it three times in two days last week, killing at least 11 people.

Daily Telegraph journalist Philip Smucker reported, 'Villagers described in detail how bombers circled overhead for several minutes before every air strike. 'A village headman said that seven villagers, most of them women and children, were killed in the bombing on Monday. It was clear from the huge craters made all along the mountain pass that the bombers had targeted people moving along the trail.'

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Sat 1 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1777
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