December 7, 2001
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No mercy for Mullah Omar: Karzai, US

The prime minister-designate of the Afghanistan interim administration Hamid Karzai said Taliban's spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has not renounced terrorism, and will face the consequences for it.

"I've been asking him for the past month to renounce terrorism and condemn the brutalities that terrorism committed in Afghanistan, the United States and the rest of the world," Karzai told CNN.

"He did not do that. Last night was his last chance before the transfer of power to do that. He did not and he remains associated with terrorism," he said.

Echoing Karzai's sentiments, the United States said Mullah Omar must face justice and should not be allowed to remain free.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters on Thursday that though it is pure speculation at this time as to what would happen to Mullah Omar if captured, 'he (Omar) remains a combatant against the US and other nations'.

On whether President George Bush's statement that he wanted Osama bin Laden 'dead or alive' applies to Mullah Omar as well, Fleischer quoting the president said that people need to be brought to justice, 'in whatever form justice takes'.

"The president has made it plain that those who harbour terrorists need to be brought to justice. That statement directly applies to Mullah Omar," he said.

To whether the president holds Omar personally, criminally responsible for September 11 attacks, Fleischer said, "It is not a question of personal, criminal; it is a question the president made plain in a speech to the US Congress, that those who harbour terrorists will suffer the same fate as terrorists. This is the reason that the president has said repeatedly that the Al Qaeda must be destroyed and the Taliban must be destroyed."

Karzai speaking to CNN also said massive looting has broken out in Kandahar following the surrender of the Taliban fighters.

"It began last night when the Taliban began to flee," Karzai told CNN.

He said he hoped tribal forces moving into Kandahar would get the situation under control 'as soon as possible'.

"I hope (they) will get there soon to take care of the security and law and order situation," Karzai said.

Meanwhile, an agency report said United States marine forces killed seven Taliban fighters overnight in the first ground attacks.

"Last evening we successfully engaged enemy forces along road networks near Kandahar, killing seven and destroying three vehicles," Marine Captain David T Romley was quoted as saying.

"This event marks our first offensive ground operation since seizing this operating base November 25," he said.

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