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Afghan official: No rush to nab Omar

Omar is believed to be in Baghran, west of Kandahar
Omar is believed to be in Baghran, west of Kandahar  


By Amanda Kibel
CNN Correspondent

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Despite intelligence reports indicating the location of Mullah Mohammed Omar, a senior Afghan official said going after the Taliban leader is not a priority.

Haji Gulalai, Kandahar's intelligence chief, said information suggests that Omar is in Helmand province, west of Kandahar, in a district called Baghran.

He says the priority of officials in the Kandahar region is to rebuild the country and the city of Kandahar first, not chasing after Omar.

When the Taliban abandoned Kandahar, Omar was seen leaving in a vehicle belonging to Baghran commander-in-chief Reis Abdul Wahid, Gulalai said, indicating that Omar was being harbored in Baghran.

Baghran is a reasonable sanctuary for Omar, the Afghan official said, because it was an al Qaeda stronghold. It also is a mountainous region with many caves.

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Officials in Kandahar want to establish some kind of police and security force, to get the hospitals supplied and running, to reopen schools, to find jobs for people, and to establish some sort of peace in Kandahar and the rest of the country, Gulalai said.

Because of this, officials don't have the resources to catch Omar.

However, they do have an intelligence network that is constantly tracking the Taliban leader's movements.

When the Afghan government is ready to go and get him, their intelligence will be able to tell them where he is, the intelligence chief said.

Gulalai said the local intelligence is being shared with U.S. forces.

U.S. forces have been pursuing Omar and also Osama bin Laden.

The al Qaeda leader is believed to be in the Tora Bora region to the northeast though U.S. officials have been unable to say for certain he is still in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden's location has been the subject of increasing speculation since the weekend when his voice was apparently picked up on a radio transmission from Tora Bora.

On Monday, a group of al Qaeda prisoners said he was still in the area, despite other reports saying that he had fled.



 
 
 
 



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