U-S bombs have pounded Taleban troops and armor in Afghanistan in strikes that have destroyed anti-aircraft defenses and have driven soldiers from their hideouts.
The Associated Press reports from Egypt that a veteran al-Qaida fighter known as Abu Baseer al-Masri was killed by the U-S bombing Sunday near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. He belonged to the Egyptian radical group al-Gamma al-Islamiya, and was close to accused terrorist Osama bin Laden's deputy who is also an Egyptian. No other wire service has reported his death.
Taleban authorities say more than 60 people were killed in Kabul and Kandahar since Wednesday morning. They say the attacks were less intense on Thursday, but five people were killed. There was no independent confirmation of the Taleban claim.
U-S warplanes are also reported to be attacking Taleban troop positions north of Kabul and around the key northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The bombing began after President Bush declared Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in September 11th terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
U-S defense officials have said the air campaign will increasingly focus of frontline Taleban troops - a move apparently designed to help the opposition Northern Alliance whose forces are said to be poised to recapture Mazar-e-Sharif. Taking the city would make it easier for the opposition to bring in supplies from Uzbekistan to the north.
Meanwhile, U-S military officials say special operations forces have been deployed on a U-S aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. The officials say the forces -- which could be used for commando raids against targets on the ground -- are ready to go into Afghanistan if ordered.