US Air Strikes in Eastern Afghanistan May have Killed Al Qaeda Members
US air strikes in eastern Afghanistan may have killed several members of the Al Qaeda network of Islamic militants, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
"I've seen reports about Al Qaeda who may have been killed," said Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, adding that the information could not be immediately confirmed.
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said US warplanes "hit some cave and tunnel complexes in which there were believed to be some Al Qaeda leadership, but we don't have confirmation of names or positions or anything like that."
US warplanes have been pounding the mountainous Tora Bora area of eastern Afghanistan for days amid reports chief terror suspect Osama bin Laden and other top Al Qaeda leaders may be hiding there.
"We're working to determine where those bad guys are," said Stufflebeem.
Ayman Al Zawahri, the top deputy to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was reported to have been wounded in the attacks, and the group's treasurer, Ali Mahmud, was killed, according to a local Afghan military commander, Haji Mohammad Zaman.
Stufflebeem also mentioned reports that local opposition groups had entered the caves "to confirm whether anyone was or is in there."
Asked whether US forces on the ground were fighting alongside local forces battling Al Qaeda fighters and troops of the ousted Taliban militia, Stufflebeem only said: "they are supporting opposition groups but not leading opposition groups."
Afghan militia backed by tanks and a US B-52 bomber attacked positions held by Al Qaeda fighters Wednesday at the Tora Bora cave complex in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack, witnessed by an AFP correspondent, came as local commanders announced a major offensive against Al Qaeda and US warplanes continued to pound the area in the hunt for bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, accused of masterminding the September 11 attacks on US cities -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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