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December 13, 2001
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Deadline for Al Qaeda surrender passes as US steps up raids

Dhananjay Mohapatra in Kabul

The second deadline in 48 hours for Al Qaeda members passed off on Thursday without their surrender, even as American warplanes intensified fierce bombing raids on the Tora Bora cave complex, and the Northern Alliance fighters launched a new ground assault.

There were also reports that the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has fled his mountain base for neighbouring Pakistan.

The advancing Northern Alliance also appeared to have closed the option of offering a third deadline to the trapped Al Qaeda fighters estimated to be about 700 with a local commander saying they are no longer discussing a surrender with them in the Tora Bora mountains.

"There are no more negotiations. We are launching the battle now," said Haji Mohammed Zaman, one of the commanders after the expiry of Thursday's midday deadline.

Diplomatic efforts were also underway to stitch a multinational security force when the interim post-Taliban administration takes power in Afghanistan on December 22.

Prime Minister-designate Hamid Karzai arrived in Kabul on Wednesday night and had meetings with members of his Cabinet and the former president Burhanuddin Rabbani.

The latest US strikes started at 0900 IST on Melewa mountain, one of the peaks in the Tora Bora region where hardline followers of bin Laden have sought refuge in a complex of caves and tunnels.

Intense attacks of machine gun and cannon fire from AC-30 aircraft and helicopters also intensified the onslaught.

Two big helicopters were also seen landing about three km from the Tora Bora mountains amid signs of a growing presence of US or British special forces in the region.

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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