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War in Afghanistan intensifies


U.S. aircraft continued bombing al Qaeda and Taliban targets in eastern Afghanistan Sunday in a joint campaign with Afghan forces described by U.S. military sources as the largest offensive in Afghanistan this year.

So far, more than 80 pieces of ordnance have been dropped in support of the Afghan, U.S. and coalition forces, a military spokesman said Sunday. U.S. military officials said that a thermobaric bomb was dropped on a cave in the region.

At least one U.S. soldier and four Afghan soldiers were killed on Saturday while battling hundreds of al Qaeda and other non-Afghan fighters in eastern Afghanistan, near the town of Gardez, according to U.S. Central Command. (Full story)

Afghan fighters returning from the front lines on Saturday said they were badly outnumbered and were being pushed back by as many as 5,000 fighters. But an Afghan intelligence official said Afghan forces were advancing in Sunday's operation.

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    U.S. transportation authorities singled out nine of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks for special security screenings before they boarded their flights that morning, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Saturday. (Full story)

    A U.S. fighter pilot died Saturday when his F-14 Tomcat crashed into the Mediterranean Sea just after taking off from the deck of the USS John F. Kennedy. The carrier was en route to relieve the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is participating in Operation Enduring Freedom in the Arabian Sea. (Full story)

    U.S. authorities may extract DNA samples from detainees in Afghanistan and Cuba to create a databank of information to help authorities track terrorism suspects, sources told CNN on Saturday. The Justice Department is reviewing the proposal made by the FBI, The New York Times reported.

    U.S. military officials told CNN Saturday that a new weapon -- a thermobaric bomb -- made its debut as part of the battle around Gardez. Thermobaric bombs are "fuel-rich" weapons designed to fill tunnels with fireballs and destroy targets hidden in caves. They were first tested in December and rushed into production for use against the underground complexes that honeycomb Afghanistan.

    Slightly less than one-third of the Afghan war detainees held at a U.S. military base in Cuba refused breakfast Saturday, part of a hunger strike that began on a smaller scale Wednesday. The hunger strike began as a protest over the treatment of one prisoner who fashioned a turban in a manner against regulations. (Full story)


    Do al Qaeda and Taliban fighters remain a significant force in Afghanistan?

    Will the thermobaric bomb be an effective tool in rooting out al Qaeda and Taliban fighters?

    How long will the Afghan war detainees be held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?

    Should U.S. military guards at Guantanamo Bay be force-feeding al Qaeda and Taliban detainees?

    Why were nine hijackers allowed to board their flights after being singled out by transportation authorities on September 11?

    WHO'S WHO:

    Osama bin Laden: Saudi Arabian-born leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network who is accused of masterminding the September 11 strikes on the United States.

    George W. Bush: U.S. president

    Dick Cheney: U.S. vice president

    Vladimir Putin: President of Russia




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