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Afghan interim leader: Taliban no longer a force

Hamid Karzai
Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai vows to be vigilant about letting terrorism re-emerge as a force in his country.  

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghanistan's interim leader said the Taliban "have completely vanished" as a political and military force in Afghanistan but warned that "there are remnants in the form of individuals or small groups."

"Those should be looked for and arrested and put to trial," said Hamid Karzai, the chairman of Afghanistan's interim government, in an interview broadcast Wednesday.

The Taliban, a religious militia, ruled the country before they were ousted during the U.S.-led coalition against terror. They had imposed a severe version of Islamic law when they gained control of most of the country.

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Karzai also said terrorism has been largely defeated in the country and vowed to be vigilant against letting it and its backers re-emerge as a force. He promised to eradicate terrorism and its supporters in Afghanistan and help the world community defeat them elsewhere.

"I am absolutely determined that we will fight terrorism, and I am absolutely sure and so are my friends and the Cabinet and the people from Afghanistan that there's no way, absolutely no way, that we can allow Afghanistan to be made the home of terrorism or [be used] for terrorism anymore."

Karzai and the rest of the interim government were sworn in Saturday and will be in power for six months.

Karzai said he doesn't know where Osama bin Laden is.

"We receive reports now and then that he may be here or there," Karzai said, "and if we get a detailed report about his whereabouts, we will certainly go after him too and arrest him."

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar -- who has, according to some reports, fled to Helmand province in the southwestern part of the country -- probably remains in Afghanistan, Karzai said.

"I keep receiving reports that he may still be somewhere around southwestern parts of the country. I have asked people to look for him, and they are looking for him.

"Two or three times, I have received a call from the southwest indicating that Mullah Omar may be here or there. We will look for him, and if we find where he is," he will be arrested, Karzai said.




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