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Reports: U-S Troops Landing Near Kandahar - 2001-11-26


Media reports say waves of U-S helicopters are landing hundreds of American soldiers at an airfield near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

The airfield was reportedly captured late Sunday by anti-Taleban tribal fighters. The Pentagon is declining to comment on the reports, which say some of the larger helicopters are bringing in armored vehicles.

Kandahar is the Taleban's last major stronghold. Sunday, leaders of tribes opposed to the Taleban said their forces had cut the main road between Kandahar and the border with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Northern Alliance officials say their troops are entering the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

Reports from the city say hundreds of Taleban fighters are surrendering as Northern Alliance forces approach from the east and the west. Northern Alliance forces -- backed by U-S special forces -- have besieged Kunduz for almost two weeks. The city had been defended by an unknown number of Taleban and foreign fighters, some loyal to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah says a pocket of resistance remains but that alliance forces are in control of about 75 percent of the city. The alliance claims have not been independently verified.

Meanwhile, the New York Times newspaper says Osama bin Laden was seen this past week in a heavily-fortified encampment in eastern Afghanistan. It quotes a minister in a newly-formed provincial government as saying the al-Qaida leader was spotted near Tora Bora -- a village deep in the mountainous forests of Nangarhar province.

The minister, Hazarat Ali, says about two thousand foreign fighters armed with rifles, machine guns and surface-to-surface missiles were protecting the fugitive. Mr. Ali's claims have not been independently verified.

The United States is offering a 25-million dollar reward for the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden -- who is accused of planning the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States.

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