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Bill Hemmer: Focus on al Qaeda, Taliban leaders

CNN's Bill Hemmer
CNN's Bill Hemmer  

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Hundreds of suspected al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are being detained at a facility near a U.S. Marines camp at Kandahar International Airport in Afghanistan.

CNN Correspondent Bill Hemmer filed the following report from the camp:

HEMMER: The man the White House says ran terrorist training camps in Afghanistan -- Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi -- has been taken aboard the USS Bataan in the North Arabian Sea. Before that, al-Libi was being held in Kandahar, separately from other detainees.

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Sources inside the Kandahar detention facility had indicated they wanted him to have no contact with the other detainees. He is a highly prized detainee right now. The White House considered him on their top 12 wanted list among al Qaeda leaders. ...

We are getting various reports here in southern Afghanistan that other high-ranking Taliban members may be in U.S. custody or possibly in control of local authorities in the city of Kandahar.

The U.S. military is being quite tight-lipped. They won't confirm it, but we suspect that it may be true based on the comments of U.S. Central Command Gen. Tommy Franks, who indicated Monday that within a few days more al Qaeda and Taliban leaders will be taken into custody by U.S. officials.

Two additional detainees were brought to the detainment area Monday night, bringing the official total to 302 [in Kandahar].

Meanwhile, an al Qaeda fighter, who had been holed up inside a Kandahar hospital with six other al Qaeda fighters, jumped from a two-story building surrounded by guards and immediately detonated a grenade, which left him dead.

The six others, still inside, continue a standoff with the guards. They say they have food, and they have weapons; they are not willing to turn themselves in. That standoff has continued for several weeks.

As far as U.S.-led bombing is concerned, the most intense airstrikes we've seen in a week got under way late Sunday afternoon in eastern Afghanistan. Targets included areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border near the town of Khowst. When we woke up Tuesday morning, we heard several jet fighters overhead.

The attacks are aimed at two goals: to drive out al Qaeda fighters who might be trying to regroup and fight again and also to destroy as many weapons and ammunition as possible.




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