Monday, November 12, 2001

SHARATAI, Afghanistan A female French journalist was killed in Afghanistan late yesterday when the Northern Alliance troops she was with fell into a Taliban ambush, an Agence France-Press journalist reported.
Johanne Sutton, who worked for French radio station Radio France Internationale (RFI), was killed on the front line in the northeast of the country, opposition commander Mohammed Abdullah said.
A French journalist from the Luxembourg-based radio station RTL, who was with Miss Sutton, was reported missing.
The two were reported to be traveling on a Northern Alliance tank with other foreign journalists when the Taliban forces attacked with mortars and machine guns.
Opposition soldiers managed to recover the body of the dead journalist, and take it to their base in Sharatai.
Miss Sutton is believed to be the first foreign journalist killed in the region since U.S. forces launched their attack on the Taliban regime on Oct. 7.
RFI confirmed from its headquarters in Paris that Miss Sutton, 35 and single, had been killed in the ambush.
Mr. Abdullah also said a Northern Alliance officer was missing and that a soldier had been injured.
In a statement from his office, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said: “I have learned with great sadness of the death of Johanne Sutton, caught in an ambush in Afghanistan while she was carrying out her work as a journalist.
“In my own name and that of the government, I want to present my most sincere condolences to the family of Johanne Sutton, and to say I share the pain of all her loved ones and the grieving of the war correspondents’ community.”
Heavy fighting was reported near Sharatai late yesterday as Northern Alliance forces attacked Taliban positions after seizing two positions there the day before, an AFP reporter at the scene witnessed.
Opposition heavy artillery pounded Taliban hillside positions in the northeast Takhar province for a few hours.
The Taliban hit back with a mortar attack.
About 50 tanks and armored cars and around 2,000 soldiers left to attack Taliban positions during the same period, Mr. Abdullah said.
Heavy fighting also took place near the village of Isvandasht, about six miles southwest of the Sharatai front line, located close to Tajikistan.
The Northern Alliance said yesterday it had seized Taloqan, capital of Takhar province, a claim denied by the Taliban.

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