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Christiane Amanpour: Bin Laden in Kandahar?

KONDUZ, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Northern Alliance forces captured the northern Afghan city of Konduz on Monday, the last stronghold in the region for the Taliban, prompting a festive celebration by residents.

Meantime, military action is heating up in Kandahar, in the southern region of the country.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who's in Kabul, filed this report.

AMANPOUR: It has been generally assumed that U.S. and British personnel have been on the ground for many weeks now. But U.S. officials are now confirming that up to 1,000 U.S. Marines ready to do battle around Kandahar have been dropped at an airport or an airstrip just near Kandahar.

We're told that they have gotten to an airstrip that is being built outside the city of Kandahar. Also we're being told by UK sources that British special forces are also on the way to that region, and they expect some big battles to be pushed onto Kandahar, onto the Taliban positions there, this week sometime.

CNN sources inside Kandahar are saying that overnight they heard what sounded like a heavy firefight in the direction of that airstrip, where it's believed U.S. Marines have landed, and that later on they heard airstrikes and saw airstrikes in the city of Kandahar. They said it was directed around the region of Mullah Omar's compound -- Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, and Kandahar, of course, the Taliban's power base.

In the meantime, the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, which controls Kabul and most of Afghanistan, now says that he believes that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden must be somewhere in Kandahar.

At the same time, CNN has been given access, for the first time, to two security documents that have been found by Northern Alliance intelligence officials, that they have been gathering up from what they call al Qaeda safe houses and security buildings around Afghanistan. In Jalalabad, they found a series of passports from throughout Europe and the Arab world. They say they may be forged or fake -- used as travel documents for al Qaeda operatives.

They also showed us visa stamps from Italy and from Pakistani embassies in both Jordan and Damascus. Also, we've seen airline tickets from British Airways, for travel from Pakistan to Sweden.

In addition, they showed us recipes for poisons and nerve gases and all sorts of lethal gases, they say, adding evidence to the al Qaeda terrorist network here in Afghanistan.


• U.S. Marines land near Kandahar
November 26, 2001

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