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November 19, 2001
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Where in Afghanistan is Laden?

Muhammad Najeeb in Islamabad

Conflicting reports are pouring in from Afghanistan about terror suspect Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.

The Northern Alliance has once again reiterated that Laden is residing somewhere in Taleban-held areas. The militia, however, has refuted such claims.

"Osama is not in areas that are now controlled by us," Taleban envoy to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef told Indo-Asian News Service.

Zaeef, who returned to Islamabad on Sunday after consulting Taleban leaders in Kandahar, also said he has no clear idea if Laden is still in Afghanistan.

"It is very difficult to say if he is in Afghanistan or outside the country," he said, adding, "he is our guest and we will take care of him."

When asked if the Taleban expect Laden to contact them, he said: "I cannot say. It's up to him... if he needs our help we will provide him every facility until the last moment."

Reports said the Northern Alliance government's interior minister, Yunus Qanuni, has claimed in Kabul that Laden is still present in Taleban-controlled areas and was seen in Maroof district, some 130 km south of Kandahar.

Qanooni said: "Osama has now made his den in the mountains ranges in Kandahar province."

But some Pakistani media reports said Laden has moved to Chechnya, a troubled Russian province with a dominant Muslim population.

A report in an Urdu-language daily said Laden went to Chechnya on Saturday by helicopter. The paper quoted sources close to Laden as saying that he sneaked into Tajikistan from where he boarded a helicopter for Chechnya.

But Northern Alliance leader Ismatullah, in hiding in Pakistan since 1996, said it is hard for Laden to flee Afghanistan. He said the Taleban have made it a routine to spread rumours about him.

Ismatullah said they have again started spreading rumours to mislead the world. "I have no reasons to believe in such rumours. I believe he is still in southern Afghanistan."

Indo-Asian News Service

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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