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Omar, Taliban flee Kandahar

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SUMMARY:

The Taliban lost their last major stronghold Friday as Kandahar fell and opposition forces began entering the city, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said. The status of the Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, was unclear but he was reported to have left Kandahar.

In eastern Afghanistan, Eastern Alliance commanders said an al Qaeda commander had been killed and a cave complex had been captured near Tora Bora.

UPDATE:

"The Taliban authority is effectively finished," said interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. "There is no longer a situation where we will need to push the Taliban forces out of Kandahar." The Afghan leader said Taliban fighters had been scheduled to begin turning in their weapons Friday at two locations per an agreement struck Thursday, but that instead, they began fleeing the city overnight. The Taliban also have surrendered the town of Spin Boldak near the Pakistani border. (Full story)

Karzai said he did not know Omar's whereabouts Friday, but he said Omar should now face trial. "Mullah Mohammed Omar is not in Kandahar. He has moved to some unknown place," said Haji Basheer Ahmed, a member of the tribal commission to which the Taliban surrendered power in Kandahar.

In Washington, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Omar remains in the "general vicinity" of Kandahar, citing what she described as "very recent" U.S. intelligence on Omar's whereabouts. (Full story)

For the first time since coming to Afghanistan, U.S. Marines fought a group of what were believed to be Taliban and al Qaeda troops overnight, killing seven people and destroying three vehicles, a Marine Corps spokesman said. There were no American casualties. (Full story)

U.S. Navy ships in the northern Arabian Sea are "querying" ships leaving Pakistani ports by radio, as part of a search for al Qaeda members who may be trying to flee the area, Navy officials said Friday. (Full story)

Thirteen U.S. soldiers wounded in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan have arrived at a medical center in Germany for treatment. They arrived on Friday at Ramstein Air Base and were transported by bus and ambulance to the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. (Full story)

The U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the plan approved in Germany this week for a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. But the council put off a vote authorizing a multinational peacekeeping force to provide security in and around the Afghan capital, Kabul. (Full story)

A few weeks ago, the crowds at the sports stadium in Kabul may have been watching an execution. Now, with the Taliban gone, the two top local soccer teams are being watched by a large crowd as sport at last returns to center stage at the stadium. (Full story)


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact


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KEY QUESTIONS:

Who are the Northern Alliance and other key players in the political landscape of Afghanistan, and how could U.S. military intervention affect the balance of power there? (Click here for more)

Will the Taliban surrender or will they continue to fight, possibly launching a guerilla war out of Afghanistan's mountains? (Click here for more)

Where is Mullah Omar Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

What kind of government will replace the Taliban if the religious group is removed as the country's government? Will there be a U.N. or international peacekeeping force in Kabul? (Click here for more)

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last? (Click here for more)

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success? (Click here for more)

What is the White House doing to prevent al Qaeda from airing what it calls "propaganda" on U.S. media outlets? (Click here for more)

WHO'S WHO:

George W. Bush: U.S. president (Click here for more)

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks. (Click here for more)

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser. (Click here for more)

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Click here for more. (Click here for more.)

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Click here for more)

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command. (Click here for more)

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense. (Click here for more)

The Taliban: A group of Islamic fundamentalists, mainly from Afghanistan's Pashtun ethnic group, which is the country's largest ethnic group. The Taliban that gained control of most of the country by 1997 and instituted an extreme form of Islamic law. (Click here for more)

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban. (Click here for more)

George Robertson: NATO secretary-general and former British defense minister. (Click here for more)

George Tenet: CIA director. (Click here for more)

IMPACT:

The military attacks that began October 7 mark the start of what the Bush administration says will be a lengthy struggle against terrorist organizations worldwide -- one that could take years.



 
 
 
 



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