Walter Rodgers: Special Forces keep low profile
TORA BORA, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The search of caves and tunnels by U.S. Special Forces and anti-Taliban Afghan fighters continues in the mountainous Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan.
CNN Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers is covering the developments in the region and filed the following report:
RODGERS: Here in the Tora Bora region, there are still pockets of U.S. Special Forces operating in the mountains. In point of fact, the Special Forces, U.S. Special Forces, have been quite busy in Afghanistan on Saturday.
In the Mazar-e Sharif area, the Special Forces, wearing body armor, bullet-proof vests, and carrying semiautomatic weapons, were used to transfer al Qaeda prisoners -- those are the Arabs who fought with Osama bin Laden earlier -- and some Afghans to the airport from a fortress in the Mazar-e Sharif area. High security precautions were taken there, the reason being that a week ago, some of the al Qaeda prisoners being transferred by the Pakistanis across the border in Pakistan broke away, staged a jailbreak and killed half a dozen Pakistani security people.
So the U.S. security people are taking no chances at all, [with the] Special Forces transferring those people, the al Qaeda prisoners and the Afghans to the airport, then moving them down to Kandahar.
But the Special Forces here are still operating in small groups, pockets on top of the mountains.
We took a drive up there earlier Saturday. They were trying to keep a very low profile. They went to ground as soon as they saw us, and they asked their colleagues from the Eastern Alliance, that is the local Afghan fighters, to disinvite us off the mountain quickly. We were told to turn around, go back, take no pictures.
That's interesting because earlier in the day when the U.S. Special Forces were leaving their base, which is about six kilometers from here, moving up the mountain, it was almost as if they wanted to be photographed on their all-terrain vehicles.
There were eight Special Forces soldiers in that group. They went up the mountain and spent the day up there. They took no overnight gear with them, no tents.
As I say, we encountered them up there quite by chance. They did not want to be photographed, didn't want to be seen. But about dusk, the same Special Forces soldiers came back down the mountains, riding their all-terrain vehicles. They had on ski masks so you couldn't take pictures of them, couldn't determine what their identity was.
They were keeping, as I say, not only a low profile, but they didn't seem to be doing very much up there when we encountered them. We're not sure exactly what their mission is, but we do know that they go up now in the morning, return in the afternoon, and they are in the company, once they get up there, of the Eastern Alliance forces.
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