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Taliban leader warns of carnage

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(CNN) -- A message from elusive Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, released at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, warns there will be a surge in violence in Afghanistan "at a surprising level," and advised militants fighting U.S. and NATO troops to stay united.

"By the will of Allah, the fight will intensify in the coming few months," the statement attributed to Omar said.

"Our predictions about the war have proved right in the past. I am confident that our fight will gain a strong foothold in the near future."

The statement came from Omar and was released Saturday in the hours before Eid al-Fitr a three-day festive period marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban spokesman told CNN

Eid al-Fitr begins Sunday or Monday, depending on when the crescent moon is sighted.

Omar congratulated Muslims on the occasion of the festival, which celebrates the end of fasting, noting "that it is the fifth Eid al-Fitr and our country is still running under the control of the crusader army."

"But I also congratulate you on another victory -- the defeat of the crusaders," he said, referring to American forces.

Omar denounced Pakistan for supporting "American propaganda," said Afghanistan's "puppet" government under President Hamid Karzai will have to face an Islamic court of justice, and urged NATO forces -- who are commanding most of the foreign troops -- to "leave Afghanistan at the earliest."

Omar heads the religious militia in Afghanistan, where Taliban militants have made a dramatic resurgence. The United States has been searching for the leader, and is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to his capture.

He was last seen in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, which he fled in December 2001 as U.S. forces closed in on the city.

The elusive Taliban leader is believed to be in or near Quetta, Pakistan, a city of 1 million in southwestern Pakistan, a U.S. intelligence source said in September. However, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf disputes this.

CNN's Henry Schuster contributed to this report

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Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar appears in CNN archive footage.


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