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U-S Officials Say Top Taleban Offical Turns Himself In - 2002-02-09


U-S officials say that U-S forces in Afghanistan have taken a top Taleban official into custody following his surrender to Afghan authorities.

The officials say Taleban foreign minister Mawlawi (Wakil Ahmed) Muttawakil turned himself in to authorities in Kandahar on Friday. Afghan officials then transferred him to the U-S military, which is now holding him at its base in Kandahar.

Mr. Muttawakil is the highest-ranking member of Afghanistan's former Taleban rulers to turn himself in. U-S officials say they think he could provide valuable information on Afghanistan's former Taleban rulers and the al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, U-S troops are in eastern Afghanistan investigating the site of a U-S missile attack Monday that may have killed several al-Qaida members.

Pentagon officials say that after delays due to bad weather, helicopters carried more than 50 troops Friday to the Zawar Kili area, near the Tora Bora cave complex where U-S and Afghan forces battled al-Qaida fighters in November. The chairman of the U-S Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, told journalists Friday that the team arrived there at night, and has not yet been able to gather any information.

Pentagon officials say the missile fired from an unmanned drone appeared to hit a group of men, one of whom they say was taller than the others and being treated with great deference. Media reports have speculated the man was Osama bin Laden, who is nearly two meters (six feet four inches) tall. U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Pentagon has no idea if the man was Mr. bin Laden or not.

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