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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Taliban Ally Cedes Arms and Vehicles

January 24, 2002|From Reuters

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A close associate of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar surrendered his weapons and vehicles to Afghan authorities in the southern city of Kandahar on Wednesday, a government spokesman said.

Khalid Pushtoon said the warlord of the Noorzai tribe, Haji Ba-shar, handed over about 1,200 firearms and 30 vehicles to Gul Agha Shirzai, governor of Kandahar province.

"Negotiations took place over a period of 12 days," Pushtoon said.

Bashar is widely known as a wealthy figure with houses in Kandahar and Quetta, Pakistan. He fought the Soviet forces that occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 and made a fortune by trading cloth, tea and opium across the border with Iran.

"He pledged to live peacefully and to cooperate with the new interim government," Pushtoon said. "He has also promised to give up his opium smuggling operations."

Pushtoon said Bashar was expected to provide information about his former allies and cooperate with Afghanistan's interim government, installed after the fall of the Taliban last year.

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