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Taliban Troops Fleeing Kandahar

Aired November 16, 2001 - 13:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now on the telephone from southern Afghanistan is Hamid Karzai. He has been a leading figure in the last days and weeks, an opposition figure, fighting against the Taliban. But he has been inside Afghanistan trying to work on defections among the Pashtun tribes.

Mr. Karzai, are you with us right now?

HAMID KARZAI, OPPOSITION LEADER: Yes, ma'am.

WOODRUFF: Let me just first ask you about these reports just now coming out of Kandahar, being reported by the "Afghan Islamic Press," that Mullah Omar is telling his troops to leave Kandahar.

KARZAI: Yes, I just had a report from Kandahar from one of our people that there is probably serious turmoil in Kandahar and that things are not all right there. I can only go that far at this minute and maybe more will come later on.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean by serious turmoil? Can you tell us more?

KARZAI: Well, disturbances on the ground because we also know that there's some fighting going on there. Some Taliban troops were leaving and the people of an area between -- to the north of Kandahar and close to border of Oruzgan. The common people, the villagers stopped them and they tried to prevent from leaving Kandahar. So, that is confirmed, we have that report, too.

WOODRUFF: If they are leaving, where do you believe they would go?

KARZAI: Well they will be moving in two directions, in the direction of the west or in the direction of the north, which is Oruzgan. In the direction of Helmand or in the direction of Oruzgan province.

WOODRUFF: And, if so, how easy would it be for opposition forces or for the U.S. forces to find them?

KARZAI: Yes, well the -- it will be very easy because Helmand is also a province that is not (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Oruzgan has already fallen to people, it's already under the people's rule. So they will find it very hard to find an escape route. They have offered them amnesty, of course.

WOODRUFF: Did you said they would be offered amnesty?

KARZAI: We have already. If they do not fight, if they lay down their arms, they will be safe. We have given them that safety offer already. But they shouldn't fight. They should just (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WOODRUFF: Hamid Karzai, how much progress have you made in putting together the beginnings of a new coalition that could lead to a stable government in Afghanistan?

KARZAI: With regard to that, my very first contact with people a month ago and today is all the same. The people are all for a national government, a government that should be determined by the Afghan people. There, we have no problem there at all.

WOODRUFF: But...

KARZAI: Ma'am, I have to disconnect now.

WOODRUFF: You have to go.

KARZAI: Yes, ma'am. I have to go, ma'am. I'm sorry to disconnect. I thank you. Bye-bye.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Hamid Karzai talking to us from southern Afghanistan. He has been talking to CNN at intervals over the last few days. I thought the most important thing he had to say was this: that he has his own report that there is serious turmoil on the streets of Kandahar, disturbances, fighting.

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