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Afghan Tribal Leaders Jockey for Control of Kandahar - 2001-12-09


Afghan tribal chiefs are jostling for control of the southern city of Kandahar, while U-S and anti-Taleban forces look for Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and fugitive terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Tribal leaders are meeting in Kandahar to resolve differences that have put the city in chaos since the Taleban surrendered it Friday. Clashes between rival forces have erupted and there are reports of looting.

U-S officials say they are not sure of Mullah Omar's whereabouts. Afghanistan's new interim leader, Hamid Karzai, has called on the Afghan public to actively search for Mullah Omar and for Osama bin Laden.

U-S Marines also are searching for fleeing terrorists near Kandahar, carrying photographs of key members of the al-Qaida network. Officials say U-S forces are focusing on al-Qaida members and not ordinary Taleban fighters, who they hope will return to civilian life

In eastern Afghanistan, U-S warplanes pounded suspected al-Qaida hideouts in the mountainous region of Tora Bora. Anti-Taleban ground fighters searched for Osama bin Laden, who they believe may be hiding in a complex of caves in the area.

Meanwhile, a seven-member United Nations advance team is in Kabul to prepare for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force that could be in place by December 22nd, when the new interim Afghan government assumes power.

Details on the composition of the peacekeeping force have yet to be determined. But U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell said Saturday that both Germany and Britain have offered to lead the force.

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