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Nic Robertson: Eastern Alliance fighters say bin Laden has fled

CNN's Nic Robertson
CNN's Nic Robertson  

TORA BORA, Afghanistan (CNN) -- U.S. Special Forces and anti-Taliban Afghan fighters continue their search for Osama bin Laden in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan, though some Eastern Alliance fighters said that bin Laden may have fled to neighboring Pakistan.

CNN's Nic Robertson, who is covering developments in the region, spoke with some of the Afghan fighters and filed the following report:

ROBERTSON: The question here is where is Osama bin Laden? We saw U.S. Special Forces going up the mountainside Sunday morning on their all-terrain vehicles. They came back down around about lunchtime Sunday. That's quite unusual. Normally, they spend about the whole day up on the mountainside around the area where the caves are.

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We've been talking with some of the Eastern Alliance fighters. We've been asking them -- because they are working with the U.S. Special Forces -- exactly what they've been finding out, and they tell us they believe Osama bin Laden's gone to Pakistan.

They say that they've searched the mountains, that they've found al Qaeda, that they've arrested them, that they've found dead Arabs on the mountain and that they believe that the only people left up there are more Afghans. They think -- all they say [is that] all the Arabs are gone though they may all have gone into Pakistan, and they said they believe Osama bin Laden's gone with them.

Even some of the more senior commanders said that perhaps the American forces here can also wind down their effort. They say, as far as they know, there's no need for them to continue to work, that all the work is done here. They've checked the mountains thoroughly. They've been to the border.

The Eastern Alliance fighters ... are providing security on the mountains, but they say that if the Americans want to stay and continue and search the mountains, that's just fine. But as far as they can see, the work here is done.

These Eastern Alliance fighters have been providing security, have been helping out on the mountains, have been guiding the Special Forces. But they say, they think, that the job here is done, that bin Laden is in Pakistan




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