FRIDAY NOVEMBER 16 2001
Alliance tanks crush 520 defiant Taleban fighters to death
FROM ROGER BOYES IN BERLIN
HUNDREDS of Taleban soldiers trapped in a school were shot and crushed by tanks when the strategic northern city of Mazar-i Sharif fell to the Northern Alliance at the weekend.
According to the Alliance 520 Taleban soldiers were killed when they refused to surrender after the Alliance swept into the city.
The stand-off and gun battle lasted throughout Saturday and Sunday.
Just over 700 men were trapped in the school. Most were Taleban soldiers from .Pakistan. The Alliance said that it sent elders into the school to try to persuade the trapped men to give up. When they .refused to surrender the Alliance forces went in with tanks, demolishing most of the buildings.
Three days later Red Cross workers were still in the ruins taking out bodies. We saw many of these being carried out yesterday.
There is no doubt that it was the soldiers of the Northern .Alliance who carried out the killings. I met some of the soldiers involved in the attack yesterday. They have been in a building across the street from the school. There were many shell cases — bullet cases — all over the floor.
Rather than admitting to a massacre, they said that they were trying to persuade the men to give up.
We were also taken to a freight container sitting in the courtyard of the building in which the Northern Alliance is based. When it was opened, there were 42 captured Taleban soldiers The prisoners were made to come out of the pitch darkness and lined up in front of their captors.
Quite what they thought was going to happen to them at that moment one can only imagine. The captives were .paraded in front of us, looking shocked, gaunt, weak — some of them were .obviously injured, some were bandaged.
We were not able to speak to them, but they did look in quite a bad condition and as we left they were herded back into the metal container.
The Northern Alliance told us that there were in all 200 Taleban soldier prisoners in Mazar-i Sharif. We saw 42 of them in that container.
Andrea Catherwood was reporting for ITN.