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Rumsfeld: War in Afghanistan Entering New Phase - 2001-12-08


U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the war in Afghanistan is entering a new phase -- complicated by Afghan tribal politics, a humanitarian crisis and an intensified search for Osama bin Laden.

In an interview with the Washington Post (newspaper), Mr. Rumsfeld says the situation in Kandahar is very dangerous after the Taleban abandoned its southern stronghold.

The Defense Secretary says the failure of some Taleban fighters to surrender their weapons risked a violent clash similar to the prison uprising near Mazar-e-Sharif two weeks ago. He says the situation in Kandahar is, in his words, "a bit like a Wild West show."

Mr. Rumsfeld says the United States must remain focused on its goal of getting the senior leaders of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network and the Taleban.

He says the task of finding Osama bin Laden and Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is difficult because of long hours of darkness, bad weather, large sparsely populated areas, rough terrain and porous borders.

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