Taliban briefly detains EU commissioner, 18 others
September 29, 1997
Web posted at: 5:58 a.m. EDT (0958 GMT)
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A European community commissioner and 18 other people, including CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, were arrested by Islamic Taliban police officials Monday. All were released unharmed after about three hours in custody.
Emma Bonino, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, was touring a Kabul women's hospital when she and the rest of her party were arrested.
"Police there felt that they were enraged by the presence of news cameras," Amanpour said just after she was released. "The incident quickly spun out of control, in that they called in more reinforcements. At gunpoint, they arrested the entire group and took them to the central police station."
A Taliban security official said that the arrests followed complaints from hospital officials. "It is the policy of the Taliban that no unrelated man may take pictures of women," said security official Hajji Habibullah. "They were brought in for this offense. The head of the hospital came to complain to us that they were taking pictures."
"Nobody knows exactly what the rules are," Amanpour said. "Sometimes you're allowed to take pictures, sometimes you're not."
Amanpour said that Bonino decried Taliban rule as a "reign of terror," and wanted to focus attention on Taliban restrictions of women. Kabul is largely dependent on international humanitarian aid, but has resisted international oversight.
Bonino, the highest-ranking Western official to visit Kabul since the Taliban took control of the capital just over a year ago, was in the city at the request of Taliban officials, Amanpour said. After her release, Bonino kept a planned meeting with the Taliban foreign affairs minister. She was set to leave
the country as scheduled Monday afternoon.
Reuters contributed to this report.