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Rumsfeld Says Mullah Omar Must Face Justice - 2001-12-06


U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the United States will not accept a Taleban surrender agreement that allows Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar to remain free.

He was speaking with reporters at the Pentagon responding to reports Mullah Omar has agreed to hand over the city to anti-Taleban forces.

Mr. Rumsfeld said Mullah Omar harbored terrorists and must be brought to justice. He did not say if this means the Taleban leader should be transferred to U-S custody, and noted that the situation in Kandahar is still developing.

The handover of the city is expected to begin sometime Friday, local time. Anti-Taleban forces are already reported to be in control of the Kandahar airport.

The man designated to head Afghanistan's interim government, Hamid Karzai, says he's willing to offer amnesty to what he called "common Taleban." Mr. Karzai says Mullah Omar would have to condemn terrorism, but did not specify what would happen to him.

Mr. Karzai described foreign fighters in Afghanistan as "criminals" and said they would face justice for bringing ruin to the Afghan people. He was referring to the Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens and other Muslims who have been fighting alongside the Taleban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

Osama bin Laden and thousands of other al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding out in the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan -- which remains under attack from U-S warplanes and Afghan tribal forces.

A local commander (Hazrat Ali) tells Reuters news agency his forces have killed 22 foreign al-Qaida fighters and captured some cave-riddled hills.

The Afghan Islamic Press says tribal forces are also fanning out in nearby forests (in the Melwa district) as U-S warplanes continue to bomb the region along the Pakistani border.

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