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U-S Central Command : No Missile Attack on U-S Planes - 2001-12-18


The U-S Central Command which is directing the military operations in Afghanistan says there has been no missile attack on U-S planes near Kandahar as reported earlier today (Tuesday).

A spokesman told V-O-A there were no missile bursts in the region. He said pilots of two U-S military transport planes did take evasive action after seeing flares, which were probably people celebrating Eid-al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan.

Earlier, a U-S Marine Captain (David Romley) told reporters in Kandahar the two U-S planes had come under ground-to-air missile fire over the desert south of Kandahar. He said there were no injuries and none of the planes was damaged.

Meanwhile in eastern Afghanistan, U-S warplanes have suspended airstrikes in the Tora Bora region to allow Afghan and U-S forces to safely search area caves for any remaining al-Qaida fighters.

The whereabouts of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden remains unknown.

President Bush says it is only a matter of time before the terrorist mastermind is brought to justice. Mr. Bush made the remark in a brief question answer session with reporters Monday.

U-S defense officials say they believe Osama bin Laden and as many as two-thousand of his fighters are still on the run in the Tora Bora region near the border with Pakistan.

The officials say the bombing campaign has not ended and that the warplanes are still patrolling the area, ready to strike when needed.

According to the Defense Department, a modest number of al-Qaida fighters who crossed into Pakistan are being held by Pakistani troops and will be handed over to U-S authorities.

In southern Afghanistan, an Afghan intelligence report says Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar may be hiding in the mountains around the town of Baghran, in Helmand province.

Meanwhile, the Taleban military chief, Hafix Majid, is reported to be negotiating his surrender. He and some 500 fighters are holed up in a village near Kandahar.

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