The Battle of Qala-i-Jangi (also incorrectly referred to as the “Battle of Mazar-i-Sharif”) was a prisoner-of-war camp uprising that took place between November 25 and December 1, 2001, in northern Afghanistan, following the armed intervention by United States-led coalition forces to overthrow the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which had been harboring al-Qaeda operatives.
Hundreds of men, including many non-Afghans, surrendered near Kunduz and were being held as enemy combatants at Qala-i-Jangi fortress by the Afghan Northern Alliance (United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan) forces for an interrogation by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) personnel interested in al-Qaeda suspects. The prisoners violently revolted and the ensuing fighting escalated into one of the bloodiest engagements of the conflict. It took Northern Alliance fighters, assisted by British and American special forces and air support, six days to quell the revolt.
All but 86 prisoners were killed as well as a number of Northern Alliance fighters. The only U.S. fatality was the CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann, the first American to be killed in combat during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Among the surviving prisoners were two American citizens suspected of fighting with the Taliban: Yaser Esam Hamdi and John Walker Lindh.
The Afghan forces were criticized for mismanagement of the prisoners, which is believed to have enabled the uprising. The captives were not properly searched and some carried grenades into the prison. Dostum later admitted this had been a mistake