America At War
KANDAHAR NOW IN REBEL HANDS; TALIBAN FREES 8 CHRISTIANS
American Reporter Staff
NOVEMBER 14, 2001 -- The ancient and fabled city of Kandihar has fallen to the U.S.-backed rebel forces of the Northern Alliance, reports newly streaming from the region say, and retreating Taliban forces have freed eight religious workers, including two Americans, who were facing trials and a possible death penalty in Kabul for Christian evangelism.
The fall of the city, a major stronghhold of the former ruling Taliban, = came just a day after the rout of Taliban forces in Kabul, the fall of seve= ral other key Afghan cities and spiraling disintegration of the fundamental= ist Islamic sect's rule.
According to late-breaking news reports Wednesday afternoon, eight Chris= tian evangelists who had been since August held by the Taliban on charges o= f teaching Christianity, a crime punishable by death there, were freed by t= he Taliban as they came under stiff military pressure and were headed to Pa= kistan.
Reports said they were freed "as a result of military action" but did = not elaborate.
American officials, meanwhile, were buoyed today by reports that ethnic = Pashtun tribes were rebelling against Taliban forces in southern Afghanista= n, where the Taliban originated and where support for them is strongest. U= .S. officials believe participation in the new Afghan government by non-T= aliban or formerly Taliban Pashtuns is vital if it is to succeed in uniting= the country.
Pashtuns far outnumber the ethnic minorities who compose the Northern = Alliance.
The ultimate outcome of the war against terrorism will not be decided in= the apparent defeat of the Taliban, however, U.S. officials warned. That = can come only with the capture or death of Osama bin Laden and his remainin= g al-Qaida forces and other terrorist organizations allied with his network= in the Middle East and elsewhere.