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Official: Enemy forces ambush U.S. forces, kill soldier

Gen. Tommy Franks: "I am mindful of the cost that these young people pay in order to support this very, very important campaign."  

(CNN) -- One member of the U.S. special forces died and a CIA officer was wounded when enemy forces ambushed them Friday in eastern Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials said.

A Defense Department memo identified the soldier as Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, 31, of San Antonio, Texas.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of U.S. forces in southwest Asia, said he was a casualty of "small arms fire" while coordinating with local tribal elements near Gardez and Khowst, where U.S. forces have been working to prevent Taliban and al Qaeda from fleeing into Pakistan.

The mission involved special forces, CIA and Delta Force members, according to U.S. officials. A quick-reaction force arrived shortly after what one official called an "ambush," and took the team to safety.

The CIA officer's injuries are not life-threatening, according to U.S. officials. (Full story)

Meanwhile, an al Qaeda leader accused of running terrorist training camps in Afghanistan is in U.S. custody at the American military base at Kandahar International Airport, a U.S. military official told CNN.

The Bush administration had listed Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi among al Qaeda's top 12 leaders and froze his assets this fall. He arrived at the base earlier this week, the official said.

The war in Afghanistan combined with the country's dramatic terrain offers a wealth of images for photographers. CNN's Bill Hemmer reports (January 4)

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CNN's John Vause reports a vital pass through the Hindu Kush mountains has been reopened, but it is not cleared of debris (January 4)

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Latest developments

• U.S. forces found what officials termed "considerable" al Qaeda casualties while searching caves destroyed by U.S.-led airstrikes in the mountains around Tora Bora, also on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. "We believe that their elements have been disrupted, and we believe that the al Qaeda which is still inside Afghanistan is on the run," Gen. Tommy Franks said. (Full story)

• For the second day in a row, U.S. B-52s dropped bombs on a suspected terrorist training camp in eastern Afghanistan. U.S. officials said aerial surveillance of the site in recent days showed convoys, vehicles and people moving at the camp. They believe al Qaeda leaders are trying to regroup at the site before heading to Pakistan, although they have no evidence that Osama bin Laden is in the area. (Full story)

• The "powdery substance" found in a threatening letter opened Thursday in the Capitol office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has been identified as talc, the FBI said Friday.

• Afghan authorities are questioning Rayes Abdul Wahid, the Taliban commander who gave himself up to government forces Friday. They are querying him about the location of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, an intelligence official in Kabul said. Wahid is thought to have been protecting Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, said Abdullah Tawheedi, the deputy head of intelligence for Afghanistan's interim administration.

• British and Afghan authorities signed an agreement Friday aimed at paving the way for international security forces to help restore order to Afghanistan's capital. British Maj. Gen. John McColl and Afghanistan's interim Interior Minister Younis Qanooni first initialed the agreement Monday. It provides the framework for 4,500 to 5,000 international security personnel to be deployed in Kabul, British sources said. Already, more than 200 French and British forces are in the city. (Full story)

• U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft are now flying regular reconnaissance and surveillance missions off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen, Pentagon sources confirm to CNN on Friday. The flights are coming out of Oman and are mainly being conducted by P-3 and EP-3 aircraft. They are looking for any unusual activity that might indicate escaping al Qaeda leaders are trying to make their way to Somalia. (Full story)

• Afghan forces, aided by U.S. commandos, have stepped up their search for Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, but Afghan officials in Kabul on Friday denied a report that Omar was in custody. (Full story)

• The Pentagon is trying to persuade remaining al Qaeda members in Afghanistan to surrender by dropping leaflets which contain an altered image of Osama bin Laden in Western-style dress. The two-sided paper shows an image of dead Afghan soldiers, with the statement, "Usama bin Laden, the murderer and coward, has abandoned al Qaida. He has abandoned you and run away. Give yourself up and do not die needlessly, you mean nothing to him. Save your families the grief and pain of your death." (Full story)

• The former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan will be deported to Afghanistan Saturday morning, high-ranking Pakistani officials here said. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef was arrested Thursday by Pakistani intelligence officials, his secretary said. He is being held by Pakistani authorities, his family said Friday. There was no immediate comment from Zaeef's family on his deportation. Zaeef immediately will be placed in U.S. custody upon arrival, U.S. sources told CNN. (Full story)

• An 18-year-old arrested Friday on burglary charges told New Hampshire police that he sent a letter containing anthrax to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the state Division of Motor Vehicles and two local businesses, police said. Authorities say they found white powder and several letters in the residence where Elijah P. Wallace was arrested.

• The estimate of the number of dead in the September 11 World Trade Center attacks has dropped to 2,895, officials said Friday. The Office of Emergency Management said 607 people are confirmed dead, while 314 people are listed as missing with no death certificates issued, and 1,974 death certificates have been issued for victims whose remains have not yet been identified.




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