Aid staff flee Taliban shells

FOREIGN aid workers and hundreds of Afghan families fled territory controlled by the opposition northern alliance yesterday as the Taliban closed in. Witnesses said the airport in central Bamiyan was shelled during evacuations.

Even as some fled Bamiyan for Kabul and other areas, an aid worker said other displaced Afghans were pouring into Bamiyan from Mazar-e-Sharif, the biggest city in the north, which the anti-Taliban alliance lost on Saturday.

Bamiyan is surrounded by the Taliban, which cut their opponents' only land supply route on Wednesday by capturing Hayratan, 250 miles from Kabul and bordering Central Asian countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.

The Iranian news agency (Irna) reported fighting near Hayratan yesterday, and quoted the warlord Rashid Dostum, a member of the anti-Taliban alliance, as saying many Taliban were killed. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

The Taliban have in the past four years captured most of the country, including Kabul. They appear on the verge of reaching their goal of uniting Afghanistan under a version of Islam that bars girls from school, confines most women to their homes and bans music, films and television. The Taliban have pledged to restore peace to a country that has been plagued by strife since a series of coups in the 1960s. They have rejected calls for peace talks, intent on pursuing a military solution.

A spokesman of the Hezbe-Wahadat militia, a partner in the anti-Taliban alliance that has its stronghold in Bamiyan, said civilian areas were hit yesterday by Taliban bombing in a town 90 miles from Bamiyan. Two civilians were killed.

Refugees arriving in Kabul from Bamiyan said the Taliban shelled the town's airport as a Red Cross evacuation aircraft sat on the runway. There was no independent confirmation of the report.

Burhanuddin Rabbani, the president the Taliban ousted from Kabul with his military chief, Ahmed Shah Masood, in 1996, said yesterday that a guerrilla war against the Taliban would continue, Irna reported.

"We will continue fighting off the Taliban," Mr Rabbani was quoted as saying from the northern Badakhshan province. "The Taliban might rule by force . . . but they know well that they have no popular base."

Leading article,

Review, page 3

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory