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WAR ON TERRORISM Roundup of developments



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



UU.S. Marines took custody of the chief of Osama bin Laden's terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, while the Afghan government said Saturday it appeared former Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had escaped forces penning him in.

Meanwhile, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salaam Zaeef, was deported to his homeland -- where the U.S. military says it intends to put him in detention. If it does, Zaeef would be one of the highest figures from the former ruling militia in U.S. custody.

The Afghan foreign minister and other officials have said in recent days that Omar -- Washington's most-wanted man after bin Laden -- was surrounded by anti-Taliban troops near the town of Baghran in the central Afghan mountains.

But a foreign ministry spokesman, Omar Samad, said Saturday that it was highly likely Omar had escaped.

UPresident Bush said Saturday that the conflict in Afghanistan was in "a dangerous phase" with U.S. special forces hunting terrorist leaders cave by cave on treacherous terrain. In a speech in Ontario, Calif., he expressed his condolences to the family of Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman, an Army special forces soldier killed in an ambush Friday. U.S. troops have been searching Taliban and al-Qaida compounds, caves and other positions in the southern deserts around the city of Kandahar and the eastern mountains for clues to tracking the remnants of the two groups and their leadership.

UBush's envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, arrived in the land of his birth after a 30-year absence. He said Omar would be "brought to justice," though the issue of where he would be tried would have to be discussed.

UThe Afghan Foreign Ministry expressed concern over civilian casualties of U.S. bombardment. Samad called for greater coordination with the Americans to "avert and avoid further civilian losses."

UBritain's Foreign Office said it was trying to confirm reports of three Britons captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Associated Press




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