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Saturday, 27 October, 2001, 01:05 GMT 02:05 UK
Key Taleban opponent executed
Abdul Haq seen here in a 1992 picture talking to an unidentified field commander
Abdul Haq (right): Hero of anti-Soviet resistance
The family of opposition commander Abdul Haq has confirmed that he was executed by Afghanistan's ruling Taleban regime.

Haq's brother, Daoud Arsalan, said that they had now accepted the "sad truth" that Haq had been "martyred by the Taleban".

We received a call from a relation that my brother was martyred by the Taleban, we have accepted the sad truth now

Haq's brother
A representative of the opposition Northern Alliance, Daoud Mir, also acknowledged the death, which he described as a "severe loss for the entire world, including the Americans".

Taleban spokesman Mohammed Tayyab Agha had earlier told the BBC that Haq and two other men had been killed after US attempts to rescue him failed.

He said at least one American had been travelling with Haq and was now on the run.

The Pentagon said it could not confirm Haq's death nor any rescue attempt, but said the death would be a loss for the prospect of a broad-based government in the country.

Northern Alliance fighters
The Northern Alliance wants US jets to hit the Taleban harder
Haq, 43, one of the best-known guerrilla commanders who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, is thought to have slipped back into the country from Pakistan with the aim of raising a rebellion against the Taleban.

Omar Samad, director of the Afghanistan Information Centre and advisor to the US Congress, told the BBC that he thought Haq had been betrayed by someone linked to the Taleban before his departure from Pakistan.

An ethnic Pashtun, like the Taleban, Haq had been critical of the current US bombing campaign against Afghanistan, saying it could damage his attempts to win over moderate elements within the Taleban.

Click here for map of reported air strikes

Taleban forces said they captured Haq after surrounding his hiding place in the province of Logar south of the capital, Kabul.

Mr Agha said US helicopters had launched a dramatic rescue attempt after Haq called for help by satellite phone, but he was caught as he tried to flee on horseback.

Haq was executed at 1300 local time (0830 GMT) on a religious edict issued by Mullah Omar and Muslim clerics in Afghanistan, Mr Agha said.

Haq's nephew, Mohammed Yousuf, said that he his uncle and a companion named only as Hamid were hanged following their capture.

In other developments:

  • US Department of Defence admits that it bombed a Red Cross warehouse in Kabul by mistake - the second such error
  • US President George W Bush signs into law new anti-terrorism measures drawn up in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks on New York and Washington
  • The White House says the anthrax sent in a letter to Senate majority leader Tom Daschle may have been produced in the US
  • The Czech Government confirms rumours that Mohammed Atta - suspected of being one of the suicide hijackers behind the attacks on the US - met an Iraqi spy in Prague earlier this year
  • US media reports suggest those killed in last month's attack on New York's World Trade Center could number fewer than 3,000, in contrast to an official figure of 4,167
  • Doctors in Kabul hospitals appeal for an end to the US raids, saying they are now having to operate on the wounded in conditions reminiscent of the 19th century

Meanwhile American warplanes continued to bomb the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Friday - the Muslim day of prayer.

Reports said at least 10 bombs fell in quick succession during night raids and big fireballs could be seen north of Kabul.

The attacks followed a daylight raid on the city in which storage facilities belonging to Red Cross workers were struck, which the organisation said were clearly marked.

Tony Blair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has announced plans for troop deployments
The Pentagon denied that the US military was getting bogged down in Afghanistan with no victory in sight.

"I don't personally believe that we are being bogged down or are getting bogged down," said spokesman Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem. "This is a very complicated operation. This is not traditional force-on-force warfare."

He said that although there might be differences between the aims of the US and the Northern Alliance, they were offering each other mutual support.

Taleban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar remained defiant, calling on the movement's supporters around the world to demonstrate against what he called the oppression of Muslims by countries such as the US and Russia.

In a pre-recorded statement played to the BBC by Taleban officials, Mullah Omar said it was not terrorism, but the causes of terrorism which were responsible for an unstable world. He accused the US of using the media to label the holy war, which he said was the duty of all Muslims, as terrorism.

The UK Government earlier announced that it was to deploy ground troops to help US-led operations.

A force of 200 commandos will operate from warships off the coast of Pakistan, with another 400 on stand-by in the UK.

Launch new window : Detailed map
Click here for a detailed map of the strikes so far

Click here to return

The BBC's John Simpson in northern Afghanistan
"He was a figure of international significance"
Abdul Haq
speaking to the BBC's Lyse Doucet before the US began its raids on Afghanistan
See also:

26 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghan warrior turned diplomat
24 Oct 01 | South Asia
Afghan powerbrokers: Who's who
26 Oct 01 | South Asia
Exiled warlord 'in talks with Taleban'
26 Oct 01 | UK Politics
UK commits troops to Afghan campaign
26 Oct 01 | Americas
Trade Center death toll 'lower'
25 Oct 01 | South Asia
Call for cluster bombs halt
26 Oct 01 | South Asia
US hits Red Cross again
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