- ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The
U.S.-led coalition will pursue military action in Afghanistan despite the
fall of the Taliban's last bastion of Kandahar, a spokesman said on
- "I think we haven't achieved our goals yet and the
(military) campaign will continue until we do so," coalition spokesman
Kenton Keith said at a news briefing in Islamabad.
- "I welcome the fall of Kandahar and the other areas
the Taliban have agreed to surrender," he said.
- Taliban fighters relinquished control of Kandahar on
Friday to local forces under a deal negotiated by Hamid Karzai, the
leader of a new interim Afghan government.
- But the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported that Taliban
supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had vanished from the southern city
he has ruled since his fundamentalist militia burst onto the scene in
- "After the (surrender) agreement with tribal leaders
and commanders, Taliban leader Mullah Omar has disappeared from Kandahar
and it is not known where he has gone," AIP quoted Haji Bashar, a
former Mujahideen commander, as saying.
- "Mullah Omar is not in Kandahar and the national
shura (council) does not know where he is. He has gone to some undisclosed
place," Haji Bashar said from the city.
- Keith said the coalition was unaware if a transfer of
power in Kandahar had been completed. Even if it had, he said, military
strikes would go on until the coalition had achieved its goals of
the Taliban and the al Qaeda network of Saudi-born militant Osama bin
and bringing their leaders to justice.
- "Osama bin Laden is still on the loose as well as
senior al Qaeda officials and for that matter...the Taliban still exist
in some areas in a combative status," he said. "They are holding
out in pockets of resistance in various parts of the country."
- Keith said a "pacification process" would be
needed even when the Taliban had ceased to exist as an organized
- The U.S.-led coalition has battered the Taliban with
air strikes since October 7 to punish it for sheltering bin Laden and his
followers, who are Washington's prime suspects for the devastating
11 attacks on the United States.
- AIP quoted Haji Bashar as saying the Taliban
laid down arms in Kandahar" without any resistance.
- "Everything was done peacefully (and) Kandahar city
is peaceful and quiet," he was quoted as saying.
- There was no independent confirmation and some reports
spoke of looting and insecurity as the city changed hands.
Site Served by TheHostPros