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Keeping the peace

Kandahar airport
Anti-Taliban forces found stocks of ammunition in caves formerly occupied by al Qaeda in Tora Bora.  


An international peacekeeping force for Afghanistan is beginning to take shape as the interim leader of the country's incoming transitional government met with exiled Afghan king.

The Pakistani army also has captured several hundred al Qaeda fighters who were fleeing across the Afghan-Pakistani border.


The multinational peacekeeping force planned for Afghanistan will not be operational until mid-January, British defense officials said. UK Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon told parliament on Wednesday that Britain would lead for force for around three months, before handing over control to one of its partners. (Full story)

FBI agents in Kandahar plan to interview 15 captured al Qaeda fighters whom U.S. officials believe could be senior members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization, a top Pentagon official said in Washington Tuesday. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the men were "selected because we concluded ... these were people who might have important information or might themselves be senior people." (Full story)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday said Pakistani forces have captured several hundred non-Afghan al Qaeda fighters who slipped out of Afghanistan and crossed the border. At a briefing at the Pentagon later on Wednesday, Rumsfeld said fleeing al Qaeda fighters were being "rounded up, contained and disarmed" by the Pakistani army. (Full story)

In Rome, Hamid Karzai, the interim leader of Afghanistan who takes over the reigns of power on December 22, visited the exiled king Mohammed Zahir Shah on Tuesday. The talks were aimed at paving the way for the former king to return to Kabul after nearly 30 years in exile. (Full story)

  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

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Al Qaeda fighters who had been arrested after crossing the border into Pakistan staged an armed revolt Wednesday, and 21 of the prisoners escaped, local commanders said. Thirteen people -- seven al Qaeda prisoners and six Pakistani guards -- were killed when the prisoners grabbed guns and opened fire on a bus that was transporting them to a detention facility. (Full story)

The United States will hand over an Australian captured while fighting with al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan so he can be interrogated by Australian security personnel. David Hicks, 26, from the southern Australian city of Adelaide, is currently being held on the USS Peleliu in the Indian Ocean along with four other Western fighters, including U.S. citizen John Walker.

Throughout the building, telltale signs telegraph a rapid retreat from the U. S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Documents litter a diplomat's desk. Bottles of Fanta stand half full. Filing cabinets protrude displaying their contents. Except for the carpet that the Taliban ripped from the floors, the building sustained no major damage and remained essentially the same way it was on January 30, 1989, when the workers there fled. (Full story)


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?

Now that the last Taliban stronghold has fallen, will its fleeing members still pose a threat?

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

What kind of permanent government will next rule Afghanistan?

How will a multinational peacekeeping force be received in war-weary Afghanistan?

How long will the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last?

What is the goal of the U.S. airstrikes over Afghanistan? What is the key to the mission's success?


George W. Bush: U.S. president

Hamid Karzai: The appointed leader of Afghanistan's interim government.

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.

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser.

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.

Gen. Richard B. Myers: Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Tommy Franks: Head of U.S. Central Command.

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense.

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.

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups that oppose the Taliban.

George Robertson: NATO secretary-general and former British defense minister.

George Tenet: CIA director


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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