Bill Hemmer: Marine progress at airport
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- U.S. Marines remained on heightened alert Wednesday at the Kandahar airport after officials said they received warnings of a possible threat during the holidays.
CNN's Bill Hemmer is stationed with the Marines at the airport and filed the following report:
HEMMER: We continue to see more signs and more progress of the U.S. Marines at Camp Rhino, the initial forward compound for the Marines set up about a month ago. It will be shut down sometime soon, possibly within days. They say logistically, it's just become a nightmare. But ultimately though and critically though, what it shows us is the continued progress on the ground here at the airport in Kandahar. Again, day to day, hour by hour, they continue to improve conditions here.
Meanwhile, a shootout took place Tuesday at the Kandahar Hospital downtown here in southern Afghanistan.
What happened about four days ago, there was a suspected al Qaeda member being treated there. He was seized and detained and later brought here to the airport after he was taken out. About eight members of Arabs there -- described to us as al Qaeda members -- holed themselves up, loaded with munitions and said they will not come out alive and certainly will not turn themselves over to any U.S. forces.
We do know U.S. Special Forces have been involved in some fashion down there. However, we are told they were not involved in the fighting and the shootout that took place Tuesday. However, that situation is ongoing at this time just a few miles from here.
I want to talk more about the detainees here. Effectively Wednesday, the Marines doubled their capacity. They finished a second warehouse on the other end of the base here, and they say at any moment, they could take several hundred more prisoners. And we've been hearing reports throughout the week that hundreds more would come. It hasn't happened just yet, but it may happen at any time.
These detainees are taken in here. They are put under 24-hour surveillance. We watched them build the guard towers Tuesday to ensure more security and more safety if more are brought in. We also watched them under spotlight, which is allowed apparently under the Geneva Convention. ...
It should also be pointed out Tuesday some of the Afghan fighters in the [Tora Bora] area say they no longer need the U.S. help in their region. They say they have searched every cave, they believe, where al Qaeda has been present but is now absent in that area, and say the forces are no longer needed.
Marines stay on heightened alert at Kandahar
December 26, 2001
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