Taliban Lose Battle In Tahar Province

During the battles in the strategically important Tangi Farhar Canyon in the north-Afghan province of Tahar, 60 Taliban soldiers were killed and 15 taken prisoner, the North Alliance's spokesman Mohammad Habil said in an interview with Radio Tehran. According to the latest reports, the canyon is now controlled by the forces of Ahmad Shah Masoud. The Taliban had made several attempts to launch a counter-offensive on the alliance's positions, but in vain. A road to the neighbouring Badahshan - the country's last province fully controlled by the North Alliance - and the Pandjer valley - the homeland of the alliance's military leader Ahmad Shah Masoud - passes through Farhar. Despite the wide use by the Taliban of aviation and heavy artillery, all of their attacks misfired, said Habil. Last week, battles between the units of the Taliban and the alliance were also fought in the provinces of Baglan and Bamian. Hostilities resumed in the country in the conditions which the UN leaders describe as a "humanitarian catastrophe." More than a half of the 21-million population of Afghanistan is suffering from the lack of food, caused by the continuing drought and economic dislocation. UN high commissioner for refugees Ruud Lubbers, who is now making a trip round Afghanistan, called the resumption of hostilities between the conflicting sides "madness" and called on the conflicting sides to immediately cease fire.

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