Hundreds Of Taliban And
Al-Qaeda Members Have Escaped

(AFP) - Hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaeda troops, including many of their remaining leaders, have escaped from Afghanistan into neighboring Iran and Pakistan, NBC News reported.

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar remains missing and is believed to be holed up outside the southern city of Kandahar, the province's governor Gul Agha said Tuesday.

But US officials believe that almost all of the remaining top 22 Taliban leaders have escaped into Pakistan, NBC News reported, quoting Pentagon sources.

As US soldiers tried to block escape routes, US-backed Afghan fighters waited to see if a group of al-Qaeda members near the eastern mountainous Tora Bora region, near the border with Pakistan, would surrender, NBC said.

Meanwhile, as many as 500 Taliban and al-Qaeda troops captured in the northern cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kunduz have bought safe passage into Iran, the network reported, citing informed sources.

Most have escaped on foot or horseback over remote mountain trails, according to the report. One top leader was wounded and still escaped.

Soldiers from the US 10th Mountain Division are patrolling the areas along the Pakistani border, while Pakistan said it had sent 4,000 troops to the area, NBC News said.
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