250 Taliban Surrounded, Villagers Flee

But Afghan mission loses support of Japanese ships ordered home
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2007 8:55 AM CDT
Afghan President Hamid Karzai waits for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, prior to their meeting at the Presidential palace in Kabul, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007. Ahmadinejad is in Kabul on the first...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Some 250 Taliban fighters are surrounded by coalition troops just 15 miles north of the Taliban’s old power base of Kandahar, the AP reports. Villagers fled as the insurgents took over their homes. “They’re surrounded and in big trouble,” said Kandahar police. But the coalition lost the support of Japanese fuel ships, Reuters reports, which Tokyo withdrew today over political deadlock.

Japanese PM Yasuo Fukada has pressed to continue the mission in Afghanistan, but vigorous opposition in parliament prevented a bill from being passed before today’s deadline. The Taliban thought to return to Kandahar after the death of a tribal leader there, but so far they’ve been routed, with AP reporting 50 killed in the past three days.