Tags: U.S. | Jets | Continue | Bomb | Al-Qaeda | Targets

U.S. Jets Continue to Bomb Al-Qaeda Targets

Monday, 07 January 2002 12:00 AM

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press said U.S. helicopters landed in the area near the Zawara training camp, dropping off U.S. ground troops searching for the remnants of al-Qaeda and Taliban militia that ruled Afghanistan until November.

Throughout the night and into Monday morning, U.S. planes were bombing the area. AIP gave no details of damage or casualties.

America's new envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmav Khalilzad, said the bombing would continue as long as a threat to the U.S. remained.

At least four helicopters landed near the Zawara camp to bring in U.S. troops, as fighters loyal to Taliban commander and former minister for tribal affairs, Jalaluddin Haqqani, were still believed to be in the area.

As the U.S. pressed on in its military campaign, British paratroopers arrived Monday to take part in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that will ensure security in Kabul. French troops guarding Kabul's war-torn international airport said its crater-filled runway should be cleared and ready for jumbo jets to land within 10 days.

The first German and Dutch troops were expected to join the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan this week. German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said 70 German and 30 Dutch soldiers will leave Tuesday to join British and French troops already in the country.

Meanwhile, American officials are questioning their most senior Taliban prisoners. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef was taken into custody on Saturday after the former ambassador to Pakistan was denied asylum by the Pakistani government.

U.S. military officials indicated that Zaeef had been taken on board the USS Bataan. More than 300 prisoners are currently being held by the American military on the Bataan and in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Zaeef gave regular news conferences during last year's U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

Zaeef, American Taliban fighter John Walker and their fellow prisoners are expected to be transferred to a maximum-security prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

The U.S. Central Command said the facility will be ready to hold about 100 prisoners in a few days and will eventually expand to hold up to 2,000. On Sunday, about 1,500 U.S. military police from Fort Hood, Texas, began deploying to Guantanamo Bay.

Zaeef, 34, has been questioned about the whereabouts of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who is traveling with other senators throughout South Asia, said that Uzbekistan's military intelligence service believes bin laden has crossed the border into Pakistan. Uzbekistan borders Afghanistan and 1,500 U.S. soldiers are stationed at an Uzbek military base close to the Afghan border.

"I fully expect the Pakistanis will do everything they can to help us locate bin Laden," Edwards told "Fox News Sunday."

Before arriving in Uzbekistan, the senators visited Turkey. Early on Monday, Edwards and his colleagues arrived in Tajikistan before heading to Pakistan, Oman and India.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said that only about 35 Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders remain at large. He said Afghanistan was committed to brining them to justice.

However, an e-mail obtained by United Press International from a coalition of Muslim militant groups said bin Laden died on Dec. 5 and is buried in an unidentified grave as he requested. Bin Laden "died due to renal failure," the message said.

As politicians and others debated the fate of bin Laden, the body of Nathan Ross Chapman, the first American soldier to die by enemy fire in Afghanistan, is expected to return to his home in Fort Lewis, Wash., this week.

Chapman's remains are expected to be flown from Germany on Monday, arriving in Seattle on Tuesday. There is no set time yet for a memorial service.

Chapman, 31 was killed Friday by small arms fire in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. Central Command said. U.S. officials said a CIA officer was shot in what was described by as an "ambush."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press said U.S. helicopters landed in the area near the Zawara training camp, dropping off U.S. ground troops searching for the remnants of al-Qaeda and Taliban militia that ruled Afghanistan until November. Throughout the night and into...
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2002-00-07
Monday, 07 January 2002 12:00 AM
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