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Chechen Rebels Open New Embassy

January 23, 2000

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ One week after the Taliban gave official recognition to an independent Chechnya, the breakaway Russian republic opened its embassy in Afghanistan’s beleaguered capital of Kabul, Radio Shariat reported Sunday.

The Chechen ambassador to Afghanistan is likely to be Zelimkhan Banderayev, the man who headed the Chechen delegation seeking official recognition for the republic fighting the Russian military.

Afghanistan’s Taliban army, which rules 90 percent of the country, are the only ones to recognize an independent Chechnya.

The Russian military has launched a fierce assault on Chechnya to crush the rebel insurgency.

The Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has criticized other Muslim countries as well as the United Nations for failing to help Chechnya.

Russia accuses the Taliban of sending manpower and military aid to the Chechen rebels.

However, earlier, Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said the Taliban have nothing to give because of the relentless civil war with their northern-based opposition.

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