ISLAMABAD, Nov 5: The Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Mulla Abdul Salam Zaeef, on Monday claimed that Taliban forces had beaten back two big offensives launched by Northern Alliance forces, and inflicted heavy losses on the opposition forces.

He said the Taliban positions in the north of Kabul had remained under severe air raids while Darra-i-Sauf district, Samangan, Kishendah district of Balkh and some regions of Takhar province had also been subjected to severe bombings and cruise missiles attacks. As a result of these attacks, 10 innocent people had been killed and 15 others injured, he said.

Speaking at a news conference, the Afghan envoy said that a number of US troops had also been killed in the war but he failed to disclose their exact number. Similarly, he said, a few US militarymen were in custody of the Taliban forces.

He said the Northern Alliance forces had launched the offensive on Aqu Kupruk of Kishendah district and Sufaid Kotal of Balkh province. These areas, he said, had been recaptured by the Taliban forces only a couple of days back.

Replying to a question about an American who died in custody of the Taliban authorities and whose body had been handed over to the ICRC, Mulla Zaeef said: “It cannot be said whether he was a journalist or a spy as he did not admit either.”

He said the circumstances in which he was arrested and his false claim that he was a Pakistani, did indicate his real purpose of the secret visit to Afghanistan. He said the American was kept in the Kandhar jail but died there after getting seriously ill.

Mulla Zaeef said that the Taliban administration was still in control of the situation in the country.

Replying to a question about the French journalist, he said the journalist was released after being cleared by the Taliban intelligence agencies of spying charges. About the Japanese journalist, he said, the Japanese was facing investigations and he would only be released when cleared by the Taliban authorities.

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