US raids 'kill terror group leaders'
Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 17:46 GMT
Pakistan is trying to stop Taleban fighters crossing the border
American warplanes have killed several leaders of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network and the Taleban regime in raids on the Afghan cities of Kabul and Kandahar, according to the Pentagon.
Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that, acting on intelligence information, US aircraft bombed a house in Kabul on Tuesday, and one in Kandahar on Wednesday.
Bin Laden: Accused of masterminding the 11 September attacks
But the Pentagon says it does not know if those killed were senior leaders of their organisations, and there is no evidence that Bin Laden - accused of masterminding the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington - was in either of the houses.
Aides to the former king of Afghanistan say a delegation of tribal elders is being sent to Kandahar, the Taleban movement's military and spiritual stronghold in southern Afghanistan that is under heavy pressure from opposition forces, in an attempt to persuade the Taleban leadership to surrender power peacefully.
There are conflicting reports on the military situation in Kandahar. One opposition leader, Hamid Karzai, said local people had taken to the streets and the Taleban were pulling out heavy equipment.
Click here for map of the battlegrounds
But the Taleban spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, told the BBC that Kandahar remained in Taleban hands, and fighters making their way into Pakistan said their comrades in the city were still entrenched and ready to fight.
In other developments:
* A senior United Nations envoy is heading for the Afghan capital Kabul as part of efforts to form an interim broad-based government to replace the Taleban
* Eight Western aid workers are freed after being detained by the Taleban for more than three months
* A British newspaper says one of its reporters has found documents describing how to make a nuclear bomb in a Kabul house believed to have been abandoned by al-Qaeda
* The first batch of UN aid reaches northern Afghan town of Hairatan
* Tens of thousands of refugees are reported to be returning to their homes in territory in northern Afghanistan newly captured by the opposition
Pakistani officials say security has been stepped up along the country's border with Afghanistan.
Witnesses said they saw a train full of Pakistani troops and tanks on the way to the border town of Chaman.
Correspondents say the Pakistanis are particularly concerned that Taleban fighters and al-Qaeda members fleeing the opposition advance in Afghanistan might try to cross the border, as well as being worried about a possible further influx of refugees.
Opposition forces have encircled the Taleban at Kunduz
The Northern Alliance, which took Kabul earlier this week after the Taleban pulled out, says there have also been popular uprisings in the eastern provinces of Laghman, Logar, Kunar and Nangahar - and that the Taleban have abandoned the central province of Uruzgan.
A BBC correspondent in the region, Daniel Lak, says Taleban troops have also largely pulled out of the eastern city of Jalalabad. But with rival tribal leaders apparently competing for power, there are conflicting reports about who controls it now.
In the northern city of Kunduz, a large Taleban force containing many Arab and other foreign fighters is said to be surrounded by Northern Alliance forces.
American B-52 bombers attacked their positions on Thursday in advance of a Northern Alliance offensive.
Tension in Kabul
In Kabul, the Northern Alliance has been consolidating its position. Its leaders say they will not set up an interim government, but will administer Kabul until political talks can be held.
A high military council led by Defence Minister General Fahim Khan has assumed leadership in the capital.
The BBC's William Reeve in Kabul says that tension is growing as control of the city is in the hands of just one faction within the alliance.
Other groups, notably ethnic Hazaras, are beginning to re-arm, he says, in order to ensure they have a say in any talks about Afghanistan's future. A thousand-strong force of heavily-armed Hazaras from central Afghanistan is heading towards the city, ostensibly to improve security in the city.
The Northern Alliance Interior Minister, Yunis Qanuni, has said the Taleban now controlled less than 20% of Afghanistan, as more provinces declare themselves free of their control.
But Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem has warned that the battle is far from over, and said US forces should remain vigilant.
|Back to News Archirves of 2001|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).