Meanwhile) Heavy fighting is reported in eastern Afghanistan, where several thousand fighters from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network are believed holed up in mountain hideouts.
Witnesses say U-S warplanes are carrying out intense bombing raids day and night against the cave and tunnel complex in the Tora Bora region near the Pakistan border. Afghan forces using aging Soviet-built tanks are firing repeatedly at positions held by al-Qaida fighters -- mostly Arabs and other foreign nationals.
A local Afghan commander (Hazrat Ali) told Reuters (news agency) his forces captured a key al-Qaida base late Thursday -- but there was no sign of the Saudi-born fugitive or his followers. The commander said his troops captured weapons, vehicles and a number of Arab family members, including women and children.
Meanwhile in southern Afghanistan, U-S Marines have killed seven "enemy forces" near the city of Kandahar.
A spokesman (Captain David Romley) told reporters fighting broke out late Thursday, when a "hunter-killer" team of patrolling Marines spotted three vehicles approaching them at high speed.
The spokesman said the dead were either Taleban or al-Qaida fighters. He said there were no U-S casualties.
It was the first known ground action conducted by U-S Marines since they set up the forward base in the region late last month.