GOLBAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's Islamic Taliban militia came up against the forces of a powerful warlord Monday after sweeping northward in relentless pursuit of former government troops.
The rebel forces claimed victory over key northern towns and a province and said they had entered the strategic Panjsher valley, where they had bottled up former Defense Minister Ahmed Shah Masoud after a two-pronged advance overnight from Kabul.
But the guerrillas, who now control three-quarters of the country, halted after forces of the powerful northern Uzbek chief, former Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, rejected their request to make way, witnesses said.
It was not immediately clear whether the Taliban, who conquered the capital, Kabul, on Friday, wanted the passage through the Salang Highway to attack some northern provinces still held by forces loyal to ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani or wanted to capture Dostum's territory.
The militia has said it wants to hold war crimes trials for Masoud, Rabbani, presidential aide Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.