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Bin Laden Alive, Omar's Son Dead - 2001-10-22


Afghanistan's ruling Taleban says that Osama bin Laden is alive and safe despite two weeks of U-S-led air attacks aimed at destroying his al-Qaida terrorist network.

A Taleban minister says the suspected terrorist leader has not been injured. However, the doctor for Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has confirmed the death of Mullah Omar's 10-year old son during the first night of bombing in Kandahar.

Doctor Abdul Barri says he treated the boy for leg and abdominal injuries but the wounds were too serious. U-S military officials have said they targeted the Taleban leader's home because it contained command and control facilities that were legitimate military targets.

No new raids have been reported over Afghanistan since U-S planes flew over Kabul late Sunday, apparently without dropping bombs. The Taleban says attacks on Kabul earlier Sunday killed as many as 18 people. The Taleban claim could not be independently confirmed, but reports quoting residents of Kabul

Raids late Sunday targeted Taleban soldiers north of Kabul entrenched against forces of the opposition Northern Alliance. Senior opposition officials tell the French Press Agency that there will be no attack on Kabul until plans for a government to replace the Taleban are finalized and military gains are made in the north.

Meanwhile, Taleban authorities say they have publicly executed five men in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif whom they accused of spying for the United States. A Taleban Information Ministry official (Abdul Hanan Himat) says two of the men were opposition commanders who were distributing arms to civilians around the city.

Opposition Northern Alliance representatives say a small group of Americans are on the ground with opposition forces near Mazar-i-Sharif. The group of at least six Americans is working with forces of opposition General Abdul Rashid Dostum, reportedly to collect information about Taleban targets that could be hit in future air attacks.

Opposition forces have been positioned outside Mazar-i-Sharif for more than a week. Taking the city would make it easier for the Northern Alliance to bring in supplies from neighboring Uzbekistan.

The chairman of the U-S Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, said U-S forces would prefer to capture suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden alive. But the general said deadly force will be used if necessary to stop Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.

In an (A-B-C) television interview, General Myers also said the U-S-led military campaign has crippled Afghan terrorist bases and destroyed terrorist training facilities. He said Taleban air defenses have also been destroyed during the U-S-led offensive, which has entered its third week.

The Taleban cabinet met Sunday. It announced afterward that it plans to distribute heavy weapons across Afghanistan to enable towns and villages to defend themselves. The Taleban also appealed to Islamic countries to send relief supplies for survivors and victims of the U-S-led attacks.

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