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Brent Sadler: Intense assault on Tora Bora

(CNN) -- In eastern Afghanistan, near Tora Bora, Eastern Alliance commanders said an al Qaeda commander had been killed and a cave complex had been captured near Tora Bora. Intense bombing has also been reported.

CNN's Brent Sadler and Ben Wedeman are in the area. They filed this report.

SADLER: It's been a fascinating day today in terms of military activity both on the ground and in the air around the mountain range which holds Tora Bora and that complex tunnel of caves where Osama bin Laden himself might be hiding.

There have been intense airstrikes against the Tora Bora area over the past many hours, the heaviest I have seen since a ground assault began about a week ago. I spoke a short time ago to the commander of this area, and his troops are making slow but sure progress. He says there are now confirmed reports from his men that more than two dozen al Qaeda fighters have been killed in the recent fighting and one of the al Qaeda commanders, it's claimed, has been killed.

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CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the front line, about four or five miles from here, and he's seen some outgoing fire from al Qaeda. We have him on the radio. Ben, can you give me the latest from there?

WEDEMAN: Yes, Brent, since we last spoke, we had to leave the area we were in because mortar rounds came in very close to us. Maybe this is just for the night, but the Eastern Alliance has pulled back most of its fighters a good kilometer.

Otherwise, we've been watching throughout the day these intense U.S. airstrikes, and it's only within the last hour and a half that it appears that the al Qaeda positions have opened back up again.

SADLER: Thanks, Ben.

This whole zone is pretty much remote barren area -- not many people around here.

There has been one development that I can tell you about. Our cameraman within the past few hours took some pictures of what appears to be a deployment of special forces, an unidentified group of non-Afghan government with guides and pack animals, fully loaded, heading up the valley to Tora Bora at the same time we were seeing intensified U.S. airstrikes dropping heavy ordnance against Tora Bora and the road leading to that area.

Another development: I've just been told that Afghan fighters say they've captured another cave -- a large cave, a complex. So, it's a fluid situation on the ground here.


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