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Hunting down al Qaeda

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SUMMARY:

Explosions and weapons fire echoed overnight as U.S. and Eastern Alliance forces continued their assault on Taliban and al Qaeda positions in the mountainous eastern Afghan region of Tora Bora. Loud explosions were heard at 5:00 a.m. local time Saturday, as U.S. warplanes continued what had been intense and almost constant airstrikes Friday at targets in the mountains.

UPDATE:

The airstrikes were moving deeper into the mountains, CNN's Ben Wedeman reported, and followed an abandoned offensive by anti-Taliban forces on al Qaeda positions near Tora Bora, about 55 km (35 miles) south of Jalalabad. (Full story)

John Walker, the 20-year-old American who fought with the Taliban, was being held Saturday at a Marine base in southern Afghanistan. Walker is "being held here for his own protection" and will be handed over to civilian authorities as soon as possible, Marine Capt. David Romley said. (Full story)

At the Taliban's former stronghold of Kandahar, the city was calm but there were tensions over the political control of the city. The Taliban surrendered control Friday but anti-Taliban forces were fighting 200 Arab holdouts at the airport outside the city. (Full story)

As the Taliban lay down their arms, U.S. marines in southern Afghanistan are shifting the focus of their search from hunting Taliban forces to finding Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda fighters, who have vowed to fight to the death. Teams of "hunter-killer" marines -- armed with Cobra attack helicopters, .50-caliber machine guns, grenade launchers and TOW missiles -- are patrolling the areas around their camp south of Kandahar. (Full story)

Conflicting reports on the whereabouts of Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar are circulating as opposition forces secure their control of Kandahar. Pentagon sources have yet to confirm any report on his present position, saying only that the Taliban leader remains in the "general vicinity" of Kandahar. Anti-Taliban commanders in Kandahar said Omar was in the city Friday but left by Saturday morning. (Full story)

John Walker, the 20-year-old American who fought with the Taliban, is in custody at Camp Rhino, said Capt. David Romley, a Marine public affairs officer. Walker is "being held here for his own protection" and will be handed over to civilian authorities as soon as possible, Romley said.

A bridge between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan is to reopen Sunday to speed aid to war refugees as winter descends. The reopening of the Friendship Bridge was announced in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Uzbek President Islam Karimov. (Full story)

CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson on Saturday arrived in Kandahar, the only western journalist known to be in the former Taliban stronghold. Robertson reported Saturday that anti-Taliban are wrangling for control of the city. (Full story)

The body of the third Green Beret killed in a friendly fire incident near Kandahar this week arrived in Landstuhl, Germany on Saturday. Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Tennessee, died when a 2,000-pound satellite-guided bomb from a U.S. B-52 missed its target and landed near his position. A U.S. military honor detail greeted Davis' arrival. An autopsy by a military mortuary team was planned. (Full story)


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact


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 EXTRA INFORMATION
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In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
 RESOURCES
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

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)

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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